Obama administration departments lobbied by Scientology include the State Department, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Greg Mitchell, founder of the small firm The Mitchell Company, is the Church of Scientology's official lobbyist in Washington, D.C. and also a Church of Scientology member. Insiders say that his role is to help the Church gain mainstream credibility with influential decision-makers.
Now, after six years of little to no progress apart from the plywood covering doors and windows, the city has had enough.
Philadelphia's Department of Licenses & Inspections is taking the church to court, which could result in daily fines of several hundred dollars.
Using $7.85 million in donations, the church bought the 15-story Cunningham Piano building in downtown Philly back in 2007. The idea was to renovate the tower into a "cathedral" called the Philadelphia Freedom Org, which would broadcast L. Ron's message to the good people of greater Philly. Instead, the building has sat untouched for six years.
Now, the city's Department of Licenses & Inspections is taking the church to "blight court," a special municipal court that deals with violations like an ordinance that outlaws any building from boarding up multiple doors and windows (the church's tower has several).
Rebecca Swanson, a spokeswoman for L&I, said the Church of Scientology has obtained no permits for construction on the property and has been in violation of the city's "doors-and-windows" ordinance since January for having "multiple boarded windows."
As a result of the outstanding violation, Swanson said, the city is sending Scientology to Blight Court, a municipal-court hearing that could result in fines of up to $300 per day for each boarded opening.
L&I spokeswoman Rebecca Swanson said the church has been in violation of Philly's "doors-and-windows" ordinance since January for having "multiple boarded windows." Further, the church has obtained no permits for construction on the building.
After a trip to Blight Court, the violations could result in fines of up to $300 per day for each boarded opening.
The Church of Scientology has purchased and remodeled dozens of buildings since it established its spiritual headquarters here 37 years ago. This weekend, it will open yet another.
But this one — a seven-story behemoth with more than 300,000 square feet — is being touted by the church as a game changer.
The city special events permit outlines street and sidewalk closures, noise restrictions, police and fire involvement and other details for the weekend, which will be highlighted by Sunday's grand opening of the $145 million Flag Building downtown. The church has said it expects 10,000 members to attend.
Portions of Fort Harrison Avenue, a major north-south thoroughfare, and sidewalks on either side of the street will be closed between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday. Security fencing will be erected to separate people invited to the private event from the general public.
A special events permit is expected to be issued Wednesday if city officials sign off.
The church did ask that the city close portions of a sidewalk near the Flag Building and temporarily disable a traffic signal near the building. The city had denied a church request to briefly remove the signal.
City officials have said they probably wouldn't approve any tweaks to their conditions. But late Tuesday, officials were still reviewing the church's request, said spokeswoman Joelle Castelli.
City officials said the church must meet the conditions as soon as possible.
Hanging in the balance are two major upcoming church events: an international gathering of Scientologists the weekend after Thanksgiving and an anticipated New Year's Eve celebration.
City Manager Bill Horne has been clear: If the church doesn't comply with all the conditions for the Flag Building dedication, the other two events won't receive city approval.
Gill said he "firmly believes" that Shelly Miscavige has been living at Twin Peaks since she was last seen in public in 2006.
Although "King of Queens" actress Leah Remini recently filed a missing-person report on her, Gill said it was "all in vain" as she would be "happy" at the base carrying out her archiving duties for the rest of her life.
"Listen, I find that question offensive," he told lawyers when asked about assertions that Holmes left Cruise to protect daughter Suri from Scientology. "I find it, those statements offensive. Like with any relationship, there are many different levels to it. You know I, I find it very offensive. There is no need to protect my daughter from my religion."
In a September deposition obtained by TMZ.com, Cruise compared shooting on location to serving a tour in Afghanistan. "That's what it feels like. And certainly on this last movie, it was brutal. It was brutal." The 51-year-old movie star then went on to claim that the physical training he does for his films are harder than training for the Olympics. "There is difficult physical stamina and preparation. Sometimes I've spent months, a year, and sometimes two years preparing for a single film," he said. "A sprinter for the Olympics, they only have to run two races a day. When I'm shooting, I could potentially have to run 30, 40 races a day, day after day."
To Tom Cruise, being away from his daughter while shooting a big-budget action movie "feels like" serving in Afghanistan.
The "Top Gun" actor was responding to a lawyer's question comparing the extended time away from Suri while filming a movie to a soldier's tour in Afghanistan, according to legal papers obtained by the Daily News.
MailOnline spoke exclusively to ex-Church member Dylan Gill, who oversaw the building of the base reveals all its secrets.
Twin Peaks was built to the strict orders of the Board of Directors, who set aside a minimum $18 million for the project, which began in 1989, and isn't even known to most Church members.
‘It's kept in secrecy, almost no-one in Scientology knows the base exists. To even get invited to the base, you've got to be in the highest of highest ranks of Scientologists knowing the most secret of secrets. Then there's a whole layer on top of that once you get there!' reveals Dylan.
Both DM and TO talked to apostate Dylan Gill, who worked at the base; he told TO that "CST Headquarters has several buildings that are used for housing workers and for doing the work of archiving — plans for the vaults include etching Hubbard's millions of printed words on steel plates and storing them in titanium boxes." It also has "upscale residences" and an exercise yard (a gyro-gym!). Work started in 1989 and was originally budgeted at $18 million, "but it cost way more," according to Gill, who says also that it is lousy with cameras and heat and motion sensors.
The Church of Scientology has run afoul of city ordinances again, prompting city officials to say that if the church doesn't begin complying with city laws, it won't get permits for two major events later this month and an annual New Year's celebration.
The church has installed a white privacy fence on the western and southern boundaries of the property where it erected a massive tent for upcoming events, effectively blocking the view of the tent property from beachbound traffic passing by on Court Street. The church did not obtain a required permit before putting up the fence.
Tom Cruise has admitted in an explosive court deposition that actress Katie Holmes fled their marriage to protect their daughter from Scientology.
Cruise confessed that Holmes dumped him to spare their now 7-year-old daughter, Suri, from the celebrity-centric religion, according to the deposition, obtained by RadarOnline.
About 8,000 Scientologists would attend the downtown meeting from Nov. 29-Dec. 1, which will be held in a giant temporary tent already erected off Court Street, along a route to Clearwater Beach.
The Scientologists are asking for the city to close off some streets around the tent for their get-together.
On Tuesday church representatives delivered the new plan, proposing Nov. 29-Dec. 1 for the event, which is normally held in England.
The IAS meeting will be held in a massive tent the church erected beside Court Street, a major route to Clearwater Beach. The tent has drawn scrutiny because a wrap the church put over the tent has lettering that violates the city's sign laws.
The church has not indicated it will close Fort Harrison Avenue, a main north-south thoroughfare through downtown, for the IAS event.
The actor's two-page description of his relationship with his daughter was filed Tuesday in a case against Bauer Publishing Co. The actor is suing Bauer over a pair of 2012 tabloid stories that claimed he had "abandoned" his daughter. The stories in Life & Style and In Touch magazines cited Cruise's absence from Suri's life due to overseas film shoots.
That day will highlight more than a week of celebrations for the church, which has requested street and sidewalk closures, police protection and other city services through an application for a special events permit.
Most problematic is the church's request to close a major downtown thoroughfare — Fort Harrison Avenue — for most of the weekend of Nov. 15-17. Fort Harrison is a north-south street through downtown that normally carries heavy beach-bound traffic on weekends.
The church also asked that Clearwater police erect a temporary fence "to create a perimeter" to keep uninvited guests at a distance from the Flag Building that Sunday.
Scientology sign violates city code: The city of Clearwater and the Church of Scientology are at a standoff.
The city is ordering local Scientologists to remove a giant shrink-wrap sign printed with the gold letters “KSW” for Keep Scientology Working from a downtown facility that is five stories high.
City officials have decided that the wrap, embossed with an acronym for "Keeping Scientology Working" and the phrase "The Golden Age of Tech" in enormous lettering, violates the city sign code because it exceeds the 30-odd-square feet of lettering allowed for a structure that size.
Scientology has until next Tuesday or Wednesday to remove the wrap from the 150,000-square-foot tent, Delk said. If the church doesn't, it could be subject to a fine of up to $250 a day following a city Code Enforcement Board hearing Nov. 20.
The city of Clearwater is asking the Church of Scientology to take down a massive sign draped on top of a five-story tent it erected for an upcoming event for the International Association of Scientologists.
The sign has the letters “KSW” which stands for “Keeping Scientology Working,” the Tampa Bay Times said. It also includes the phrase: “The Golden Age of Tech.” The church has said that the banner is a religious symbol, but the city says it is a sign and is covered by Clearwater's sign ordinance.
For five minutes I felt gratified, thinking my report that many psychiatric diagnostic categories are unscientific had been helpful. Then I saw that what the Clark v. Arizona decision, the last in the Court's most recent term, included was a serious mischaracterization and misapplication of my work. I wondered how the Court had heard of my book and soon discovered that the writer of an amicus curiae brief had cited it in a way that, through implication and omission, was misleading.
When I discovered that the "Citizens Commission on Human Rights" (CCHR) had submitted that brief, it struck me that a Justice would be unlikely to know that the [so-called] Church of Scientology founded and remains closely tied to the CCHR.
I wondered: Does the Supreme Court have mechanisms to find out the nature of groups that submit amicus briefs, and does the Court have mechanisms to figure out whether scientific research and clinicians' opinions in briefs are of good quality and accurately presented?
Workers installed the wrap Monday, looking like dots beside the giant KSW letters as they dangled from ropes high above the structure.
Tuesday began with an inspection by the Fire Department of the 150,250-square-foot tent that borders Court Street, the primary route to Clearwater Beach. Inspectors gave the church one day to prove its wrap met the fire code. Church officials quickly provided documentation that it did.
But the church failed to persuade city officials that the wrap was a religious symbol. Nor is the wrap a mural. City code defines a mural as depicting a scene or event of natural, social, cultural or historic significance.
An enormous mural draped Monday over a massive tent that was erected downtown by the Church of Scientology might violate city sign laws, city officials said.
The church, which didn't alert the city in advance about the mural, later told the city's planning director that it's a religious symbol.
Planning director Michael Delk said he will have to determine how much of the mural is signage and how much is symbol.
The Church of Scientology International (CSI) filed an Anti-SLAPP motion Friday in Monique Rathbun's harassment lawsuit against the church and its leader, David Miscavige. And that motion includes stunning admissions by the church as it attempts a major gamble to stop the lawsuit in its tracks.
A Dutch court has ruled the Amsterdam arm of Scientology is a charitable organization and exempt from paying taxes.
The ruling by the Amsterdam Appeals Court overturns a lower court ruling that Scientology should be taxed because it charges adherents for classes.
The ruling by the Amsterdam Appeals Court overturns a lower court ruling that Scientology should be taxed because it charges adherents for classes.
The appeal court ruled that Scientology's classes "don't differ significantly from what other spiritual organizations do, or can do." It noted there are payment exemptions for members who can't afford them.
A French appeals court has refused to overturn a 2009 conviction for organized fraud against the Church of Scientology. The organization had claimed the original verdict violated its right to freedom of religion.
The judge also upheld rulings pronounced against six individual members of the church, including Alain Rosenberg, its head in France.
France's top appeals court on Wednesday upheld a fraud conviction and hundreds of thousands of euros in fines against the Church of Scientology for taking advantage of vulnerable followers.
The Cour de Cassation rejected the organisation's request that a 2009 conviction for "organised fraud" be overturned on the grounds it violated religious freedoms.
The group has previously indicated it will appeal the conviction to the European Court of Human Rights.
The verdict overturns a lower court decision which said the tax office is right in the way it treats Scientology. The court case stemmed from a tax office refusal to grant Scientology ANBI status, which is applied to religious and spiritual organisations and allows them, for example, to benefit from gifts.
The tax office had argued Scientology does not qualify as an ANBI institution because it also charges members for its audit and training programmes. However, the appeal court ruled that other churches also charge for training, such as becoming a priest.
France's highest appeals court on Wednesday upheld the 2009 fraud conviction of the Church of Scientology [church website; JURIST news archive]. The Cour de Cassation [official website, in French], the country's court of final appeal for civil and criminal matters, rejected the organization's request [AFP report] that the conviction be overturned on the grounds it violated religious freedom. The original ruling convicted Scientology's Celebrity Centre and bookstore in Paris of fraud following numerous instances of pressuring members [AP report] into paying large sums for questionable services and materials. The Church of Scientology is not recognized as a religion under French law.
The Church of Scientology said it would appeal to international tribunals after France's highest court upheld a fraud conviction Wednesday.
The Court of Cassation upheld a 2009 decision by a lower court against the French branch of the church and its bookstore and Celebrity Center in Paris, Radio France Internationale reported. The decision also let stand the convictions of five church members, including Alain Rosenberg, its head in France.
France's highest appeals court was due to rule on a fraud conviction against the Church of Scientology Wednesday. The sect is appealing against a ruling against five church members as well as the Paris-based Celebrity Centre and bookstore.
France's highest appeals court has upheld the 2009 fraud conviction of the Church of Scientology's French branch, its bookstore and five of its leaders.
The Scientologists were accused of pressuring members into paying large sums for questionable services and materials and using "commercial harassment" against recruits. The group and bookstore were fined 600,000 euros ($814,000). The Scientologists' appeals of their convictions claimed infringement on their religious freedom.
The Cour de Cassation, France's highest appeals court, threw out the Scientolgists' appeal against fines of 200,000 euros on its bookshop and 400,000 on its Celebrity Centre in Paris, as well as two-year suspended sentences and 30,000-euro fines on five sect members, including its leader in Paris, Alain Rosenberg.
It agreed with lower courts that the church had targeted emotionally fragile people for financial gain.
But it did cancel damages awarded to a complainant who had dropped out of the case.
The Church had argued in a September 4th hearing that the verdicts constituted a violation of their religious liberty, but the court on Wednesday rejected that claim.
In 2009, convictions and fines of €400,000 and €200,000 ($812,000 in total) were handed down to the Church's Celebrity Centre and a Scientology bookshop in the French capital.
Scientology leader in Paris, Alain Rosenburg and the Celebrity Centre's former president Sabine Jacquart were also found guilty of taking financial advantage of elderly members of the Church and sentenced to two-year suspended prison sentences as well as being handed €30,000 fines for organized fraud.
The French branch of the Church of Scientology was found guilty of organised fraud in 2009, a ruling that was upheld in a February 2012 appeal.
Five plaintiffs in the case accused the church of persuading them to spend tens of thousands of euros on personality tests as well as bogus vitamin cures, sauna sessions and “purification packs”.
The court levied fines totalling €600,000 on the Celebrity Centre and the Scientology bookstore in Paris. Four French Scientology officials received suspended prison sentences while the church's leader in France, Alain Rosenberg, received a €30,000 fine as well as a two-year suspended sentence.
Nigel Hall argued that he had been unlawfully discriminated against because other Canadians had access to tax credits if they chose to donate to registered charities. Income Tax Act provisions requiring a "qualified donee," he maintained, violate the Charter of Rights.
But the court ruled that there was no Charter breach because no one who donated to non-registered charities was entitled to tax credits. The statutory scheme of registered charities also did not offend the Charter because no specific group was barred from applying for registration.
Marty Rathbun and his wife, Monique say that for three years they have been targeted in a campaign to destroy their lives.
Marty described a bizarre confrontation that took place at his front door, explaining, "They have this whole group of people with cameras on their heads, screaming and hollering."
Scientology is not considered a registered charity in Canada. If an individual donates to Scientology they will not receive an official donation receipt in Canada. In Hall v. The Queen, Mr. Hall donated money to the International Association of Scientologists ("IAS") and argued that the fact that he did not get a tax benefit is a violation of his Charter rights. Justice Pizzitelli of the Tax Court of Canada dismissed Mr. Hall's appeal. It is interesting that in the decision it notes "... IAS is not a registered Charity in Canada nor apparently even applied to be." Apparently Scientology has in the past tried to obtain registered charity status but CRA declined their application.
A controversial travelling exhibit denouncing psychiatry and sponsored by a group funded by the Church of Scientology has come to Ottawa.
The Scientology-funded Citizen's Commission on Human Rights exhibit is called Psychiatry, An Industry of Death.
A new date for the dedication of the massive Flag Building downtown, which the church had originally tentatively planned for Sunday, will be made public "very shortly," said church spokeswoman Pat Harney.
"It's going to happen soon. It's something we're all looking forward to. I assure you that it's a bright future, not just for Scientology, but for all of us here," Harney said.
2013-10-04, Douglas R. Clifford, Editorial, Tampa Bay Times
The judges in two separate lawsuits against the Church of Scientology have made the right call to keep the focus on the church's behavior and reject its efforts to sidetrack the cases. The church should address the accusations of misconduct directly rather than delay and obfuscate by trying to force its accusers to change lawyers.
Young people with mental health issues were allegedly subjected to a "hostile" demonstration by "extreme" Scientology-linked protesters.
Youth delegates attending a mental health conference described how they were "upset and traumatised" by up to 60 shouting protesters.
The group were from the East Grinstead-based Citizens' Commission on Human Rights, which has ties with the Church of Scientology.
Judges in two states have rejected the Church of Scientology's attempts to undercut lawsuits that allege activities ranging from fraud to spying.
In both cases, the church attempted a rarely used legal strategy: Try to get the other side's lawyers disqualified.
But in federal court in Tampa and state court in Texas this week, the answer was no.
Former Scientologists Rocio and Luis Garcia, of Irvine, Calif., sued the church in January in Tampa federal court. But their suit advanced little in the following months as church lawyers filed multiple motions attempting to disarm it.
The church also sought to delay Thursday's hearing, saying the other side had not produced certain documents, as directed. U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore rejected that request Wednesday.
Business Insider reports a member of Anonymous sent them an email stating that the Church of Scientology has been posting ads on Craigslist, describing it as abuse all "to recruit new members."
Accused of bilking insurance companies out of millions of dollars, Narconon of Georgia has agreed to give up its operating license in return for a promise the company won't be prosecuted.
Mary Morton, whose complaint to the Georgia Insurance Commissioner's Office started the investigation, told WSB's Pete Combs she called Narconon of Georgia Tuesday, but was told nothing about the non-prosecution agreement. Instead, Morton said a Narconon executive told her, “Unfortunately, we're full to capacity right now.”
Morton said she got another call moments later from a counselor trying to sell her on another Narconon facility in a different state.
Kirstie Alley is reportedly furious that former friend Leah Remini spoke out about the Church of Scientology while appearing on "Dancing With the Stars." The two were once close friends who were members of the organization, but since Remini left the Church, Alley has been outspoken against her.
Alley was "absolutely stunned when it was announced that Leah would be a contestant on the show. Kirstie did feel extremely betrayed. Kirstie was livid that Leah made those comments about the church on Monday night," a friend told Radar Online.
According to an AJC report, the treatment facility will avoid potential criminal charges but the investigation against those running the business continues.
The charges stem from allegations that Narconon billed insurance companies for services it did not provide and operating as a residential unit when it was licensed as an outpatient clinic.
Following up on an investigation by WSB's Pete Combs, a Scientology-based drug rehab facility in Norcross agrees to shut its doors under pressure from the Gwinnett County district attorney who is investigating claims of massive insurance fraud. But that's not the end of the story.
Under the agreement reached between Narconon and District Attorney Danny Porter, Narconon closes its doors. In return, Porter promises not to prosecute the Scientology-related rehab facility based in Norcross.
That does not sit well with some.
During Wednesday hearing Judge Bland ruled that Narconon attorneys will have to produce records of alleged incidents of employees, trainees and students using illegal drugs and alcohol from 2004 until 2010.
During the hearing Narconon Attorney Bill Pettigrew said he would produce the documents within 15 days.
The ruling was part of pre-trial proceedings in a lawsuit filed in March 2010 on behalf of Heather Landmeier a Narconon graduate now in a vegetative state after overdosing on heroin and oxycontin.
2013-09-25, Christian Boone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A controversial Norcross drug treatment facility with ties to the Church of Scientology will avoid any potential criminal charges after surrendering its license to the state.
But the investigation into allegations of insurance fraud by those running the facility isn't over, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said.
“Narconon as a corporate entity has been relieved of criminal liability but no individual is,” Porter said Wednesday. “Certainly we've discovered discrepancies between what was billed and what was provided. The key now is to identify those individuals who were submitting the claims.”
"Without getting into the details of my childhood and the dangers of Scientology's education system, I will say this. The leader of Scientology, Tom Cruise's best man, my uncle David Miscavige, is a high school dropout. What does that say about the value Scientology puts on education? Is this not what Jaden Smith is advocating?" Jenna asked.
"I don't know what propaganda you have seen or what your celebrity advocate friends have told you, but it's time to look a little deeper. If you don't want to know the truth (which I gather is the case from you saying you 'don't want to talk about Scientology') then please refrain from praising a system you clearly know nothing about," she concluded.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) declared inadmissible an application filed by the Church of Scientology claiming that the Belgian authorities had breached the church's rights by issuing statements to the media on a pending investigation.
In July, Remini announced her decision to leave the Church of Scientology, later admitting that the decision cost her several friends.
Fortunately, Lopez is standing by "The King of Queens" star, and even cheered for Remini from the audience at "DWTS" on Monday, according to the Daily Mail.
The Church of Scientology has backed off previously announced plans to dedicate its Flag Building downtown on Oct. 6 and will push back its grand opening indefinitely.
The seven-story structure that takes up an entire city block has been under construction since 1998. Also known as the "Super Power" building, the structure will reportedly house a classified church program first advanced by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in the 1970s.
The church had expected 10,000 Scientologists for the dedication Oct. 6 and faced two city deadlines this week to supply information for a special events permit to close streets and sidewalks around the Flag Building. A traffic plan was due by 5 p.m. today and a certificate of liability insurance and an updated venue site plan are due by Friday.
City officials have given the Church of Scientology two deadlines to provide more details about the Oct. 6 dedication and grand opening of the church's massive Flag Building.
If the church doesn't comply this week, the city might not approve Scientology's request for street and sidewalk closures downtown for an event that the church says will draw up to 10,000 guests.
A judge is set to rule this week if Narconon Arrowhead will have to produce documents related to incidents of drug and alcohol use by its staff, according to court documents.
A hearing is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday in Pittsburg County District Court in the lawsuit against Narconon filed on behalf of a Narconon graduate now in a vegetative state after overdosing on heroin and oxycontin.
Signs proclaiming “NO Narconon in Hockley” were just about everywhere in the hamlet, which straddles the Mono-Adjala Townline, and concerned residents filled a meeting room in the Hockley Community and Seniors Hall last month to challenge representatives of Narconon International and Narconon Canada when they sought to allay fears that the facility would pose a threat to community safety.
Several attempts by the Times to reach Narconon for comment have so far been unsuccessful.
Kitchener-based physician Dr. Terry Polevoy has committed himself to revealing fraudulent health schemes in the medical field. He says he's been following Narconon and the Church of Scientology since the 1990s.
“Their own website leads you to believe that they're doing something (in Cambridge),” he said.
Walk down the front steps of their home. Take out the trash. Sit on their back deck. Climb into their pickup. A group of Scientologists called the "Squirrel Busters'' were always there, taunting, pointing cameras at them, telling Marty Rathbun to stop what he was doing. They often rolled up in a golf cart, coming from a rented house down the street.
And they kept it up for 199 days, until September 2011, Monique Rathbun told a Texas courtroom Thursday as testimony opened in her lawsuit alleging that Scientology leader David Miscavige directed a three-year intimidation campaign against her husband that ricocheted and harmed her as well.
Narconon has lost its controversial bid to buy the picturesque estate of late Conservative MP Donald Blenkarn and turn it into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.
The Blenkarn family has chosen to sell the Hockley Village property to an area resident, according to Bill Schoenhardt, who is handling the sale on behalf of his sister-in-law, Marguerite Blenkarn.
At the end of July, the Canadian branch of Narconon International, a Scientology-based organization that operates non-medical drug rehab centres around the world, announced plans to bring a treatment centre to a 150-acre rural property along the Mono-Adjala Townline just north of Highway 9.
The announcement was met with overwhelming opposition by the community and since then residents have banded together to do what they can to stop the proposal.
In Hockley, however, residents are readying for battle. Some, including Caissie, simply don't believe a rehab facility belongs in the family-oriented village, which rarely sees police cruisers and has limited local medical services.
Others have been gripped by an Internet-fuelled panic about Narconon itself. The program, which includes detoxifying sauna sessions and high doses of vitamins, is lauded by famous Scientologists Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley. But the methods have recently come under fire amid lawsuits filed by the families of three Narconon clients who died at a facility in Oklahoma.
"If you're egocentric, not always confident or insecure because of being in public eye and want to be charitable, Scientology pushes your buttons. That's why someone like Bono would fit the bill perfectly as so many people know him," she said. “I know he was receiving Scientology auditing and was at one of the Celebrity Centre Galas. Why would he need auditing?”
Adjala-Tosorontio Mayor Tom Walsh, who attended the open house, estimates between 100 to 125 people were at the meeting.
It included a presentation mainly from Narconon International president Clark Carr, along with Meridian Planning, the firm looking after the application.
A plea deal with Pinellas prosecutors has ended an awkward chapter for the Church of Scientology and its long crusade against drugs, allowing the twin sister of the church's worldwide leader to avoid a marijuana conviction.
St. Petersburg police arrested Denise Gentile in January on charges of DUI, possession of marijuana and failure to yield. But, after negotiations between her attorney and the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office, she pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge of reckless driving. She did not appear in court, and a formal finding of guilt will be withheld.
The twin sister of Scientology leader David Miscavige is fighting drug possession charges after she was arrested earlier this year when police allegedly found with nine marijuana-filled 'blunts' in her SUV.
It is also claimed that Denise Gentile knowingly allowed a rental property she owned in St Petersburg, Florida, to be used as a drug den and allowed one of her tenants to pay his utility bills by giving her drugs.
According to a new report by the National Enquirer, the Fat Actress star settled quietly with a customer of her products who claimed they were fraudulent, paying her $130,000.
"This is a major setback not only to Kirstie's profitable business enterprise, but also to her reputation," an insider told the magazine.
The Vandergriend family and many others claim nobody told them Narconon was controlled by Scientology.
"They don't even have a certified doctor, a certified nurse, they don't have anybody," said Dave Vandergriend, Justin Vandergriend's father.
John Anchondo, a former Narconon salesman, said, potential patients weren't aware the rehab center was tied to Scientology.
Scientologist Peter Dwan, representing drugs charity Narconon, gave anti-drugs presentations to more than 30 schools in the county and is planning more.
But other drugs charities have criticised the methods used by Narconon, and one awareness charity warned schools against involvement with its programmes.
The Church of Scientology in Sydney has been accused of holding a young Taiwanese woman hostage after she suffered a mental breakdown.
In March 2012, Alice Wu was hospitalised after she punched a window at the Church of Scientology's headquarters in Dundas, in Sydney's west.
Ms Wu badly damaged her right hand in the incident. Her family claims she was trying to escape the facility at the time.
In the end Scientology will be taken down over money. Interesting, huh? A wealthy couple from Irvine, California are suing the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige for fraud. Long time members of the cult, Luis and Rocio Garcia filed in federal court in Tampa, Florida. They say they've invested in something Scientology calls the “Super Power Building” in Clearwater, Florida that was begun in 1998 and has never opened.
Plaintiffs Luis and Rocio Garcia of Irvine, Calif., name five Scientology corporations as defendants, including the church's main entity in Clearwater. The former church members say they gave Scientology more than $420,000 for the massive "Super Power" building in Clearwater that has never opened, church services they never received and humanitarian projects that never materialized.
The deception went as far as producing phony videos of church earthquake relief efforts to induce parishioners to give, said the Garcias' attorney, Theodore Babbitt of West Palm Beach.
Maybe he was just imagining things. John H. Richardson, my former colleague at Premiere magazine, says curious incidents began happening after he started reporting on the Church of Scientology in 1993. It didn't seem coincidental to him: People knocking on his neighbors' doors, saying he was under investigation. A phone call telling his wife he had sent her some kind of sex-gram that the caller would read aloud.
A Bend dentist has asked the Oregon Court of Appeals to review a $348,000 penalty stemming from allegations that he required employees to attend a Scientology-related training session.
The Bureau of Labor and Industries imposed the fine in September to settle charges of religious discrimination at Dr. Andrew W. Engel's practice, Awe Dental Spa.
Last night, the St. Petersburg, Florida CBS affiliate, WTSP, broke news that Marty Rathbun has made blockbuster allegations in sworn testimony that the Church of Scientology spent millions in an attempt to influence Florida judges as it was fighting the criminal investigation and then civil litigation following the 1995 death of church member Lisa McPherson.
After filing suit in May of 2010, the Desmonds have spent two years trying to find answers about how and why Patrick died. Their lawyer said he is frustrated because at every turn, he has met with resistance, deception and disappearing evidence.
“There were documents that we asked for in discovery and they… said ‘We don't have any such documents,'” said the Desmonds' attorney, Jeff Harris. “We determined later that they do. There clearly were documents that were responsive to the written discovery requests, which you have to respond to under oath, that had never been produced before. We had to find out about them other ways.”
Judge Stacey Hydrick also concluded that Narconon Executive Director Mary Rieser lied in as many as ten depositions when she “repeatedly failed to produce, and on multiple occasions falsely denied the existence of clearly relevant, responsive documents and information.”
Finally, Hydrick concluded that, when she asked Rieser on the stand about the omissions and false declarations, Narconon's leader was simply not credible in her responses. In other words, she failed to tell the truth.
The secretive Church of Scientology is to finally lift the lid on its £6 million plans for a listed mansion in Birmingham - seven years after targeting new headquarters in the city.
The American church, whose followers include Tom Cruise and John Travolta, is sending a representative to brief residents in a public consultation on the restoration of the former Pitmaston building in Moor Green Lane, Moseley.
The Vandergriend family and many others talking to the I-Team said nobody told them Narconon was connected to Scientology and said they have no doubts why Justin relapsed after attending Narconon.
"They don't even have a certified doctor, a certified nurse," said Justin Vandergriend's father, Dave. "They don't have anybody."
The I-Team checked state databases and found that none of the Narconon employees identified had any Nevada medical licenses or certification for drug counseling or rehab services.
Justin Vandergriend's mother, Camille, said she called a number of 800 numbers trying to find a drug rehab center for her son.
"I talked to one gal who I was very impressed with and she in turn had a representative call me back," Camille Vandergriend said. "Unbeknownst to me, he was a representative from Narconon."
A source currently employed at Narconon told the I-Team they buy up several of the top websites shown on Google for drug rehab, redirecting calls to a Narconon phone bank.
"It was all bull****," Anchondo said. "The whole thing was to get them into our centers. If they didn't have money, then we'd refer them out to some homeless -- but man, I was good.
The Kazakh State Agency for Religious Affairs has denied recognition as a religious organization to the republican association of scientologists, which means the latter may be denied re-registration, agency deputy head Marat Azilkhanov told Interfax on Thursday.
"They submitted founding documents for re-registration [as a religious organization]. Agency specialists concluded that the organization was not religious. So, we believe the scientology organization is not religious," he said.
John McGhee, who travelled from Dublin to attend the protest, said he had been a Scientologist until two years ago.
Protesting against his former religion, he said East Grinstead held great significance for Scientologists.
Shirley Gilliam, the mother of Gabriel Graves — found dead at the facility in 2011, filed the wrongful death lawsuit today in PIttsburg County Court.
This is second wrongful death suit filed against facility this month. Earlier this month another wrongful death lawsuit against Narconon Arrowhead was filed on behalf of Robert Murphy and Tonya White, parents of Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, of Owasso, who was found dead in the facility's withdrawal unit in July.
The family of a Claremore man who died while in drug rehab at Narconon Arrowhead filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging negligence and wrongful death.
The family of Gabriel Graves, a 32-year-old father of two who died in October 2011, is the third to sue the facility, which is located on Lake Eufaula northeast of McAlester.
Narconon Arrowhead has been the center of an ongoing investigation after the July death of 20-year-old Stacy Murphy which spured a county, state and federal investigation of the three other patient deaths at the facility.
Her death followed the deaths of three others, two of the other deaths along with Murphy's occured in a span of less than a year.
Last October, Gabriel Graves, 31, was found dead in his bed at the facility and then in April, Holten was found dead in her bed at the facility and in July, Murphy was found dead at the facility. In 2009 Kaysie Werninck also died while a patient at the facility.
According to an obituary published Aug. 30 in the Scranton Times, Corona graduated magna cum laude from Boston's Northeastern University in 1997. He landed a job as pharmacist in Philadelphia before moving to the Gwinnett area last year, where he worked as a counselor at Narconon of Georgia.
An inquiry with that company was not immediately returned Tuesday.
2012-10-15, Alexis Stevens, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A man found dead in a Gwinnett County office park died from using cocaine, the county's medical examiner's office said Monday.
Ronald Corona Jr., 39, was found around 2:30 a.m. Aug. 13 on Technology Parkway South in Peachtree Corners. Gwinnett officer were dispatched to the area following a report of a suspicious person "sleeping or possibly dead" behind a business.
The attorneys for the family of Stacy Dawn Murphy, who died July 19 while going through drug rehab at Narconon Arrowhead, filed a lawsuit against the facility Friday alleging wrongful death and negligence, according to a press release.
Murphy was the most recent of three deaths at Narconon since last year that began a multi-agency investigation into the facility.
Oregon Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian said Thursday he has ordered Engel and his dental practice to pay nearly $350,000 in damages to the former employee who fled her job when ordered to attend a three-day Scientology-affiliated symposium or be fired.
Engel, whose Bend practice is AWE Dental Spa, issued a brief statement Friday through Portland attorney Michael Gordon, who said they will appeal the state labor commissioner's decision to the Oregon Court of Appeals:
A phone message at Engel's practice said he was out until Monday. He gained his dental license in Oregon in 1998. State Board of Dentistry records show the body has never taken disciplinary action against Engel.
Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian said the penalty will cover the woman's lost wages and damages as well as moving expenses and emotional distress.
Employees should feel "secure from an employer's pressure to do something that conflicts with their religious beliefs," he said in a written statement.
I wanted to explore the world of Scientology and did just that with former Scientologist and author Jefferson Hawkins. He had a bitter split with the Church and talks about physical and emotional abuse.
Hawkins spent some time on my show this evening. It was an eye-opening conversation.
Patrick Desmond's mother describes him as kind-hearted and good-natured, but the former Marine died at 28-years-old, losing a battle against alcoholism.
Desmond's death in 2008 came as he took part in a worldwide drug treatment program, Narconon, already under fire for other patient deaths and ties to the Church of Scientology.
Now a Channel 2 investigation is raising questions about the Narconon program and its license in Georgia.
As far as we could tell, however, Magnotta's actual involvement with Scientology was either exceedingly tenuous or nonexistent.
That isn't the case with Johnny Lewis. The Sons of Anarchy actor was a second-generation Scientologist, the child of prominent church members of the highest order (they're OT8's), and he also had extensive involvement with Scientology's troubled drug rehab program, Narconon.
KATY Perry's ex who allegedly murdered his landlady, her cat and then himself, had deep ties to Scientology and its drug abuse program.
A photo obtained by TMZ shows the Sons of Anarchy star Johnny Lewis, 28, at the Scientology substance abuse program, called Narconon, which he reportedly spoke at back in 2004.
The website reports that Lewis' mother used the principles of the program to keep him off drugs.
The Church of Scientology has broken years of silence over its future plans for a listed mansion in Moseley – with a pledge to spend £6 million on a major restoration.
The American church, whose followers include Tom Cruise and John Travolta, says it proposes a ‘complete and sensitive' restoration of the former Pitmaston building in Moor Green Lane to ‘bring the property back to its former glory'
He insisted he's not trying to take a stand or exclude anyone. "Everyone's welcome here, including Scientologists. I just want people to know, we are not associated with Scientology and that there are businesses in Clearwater that are not associated with Scientology. Please don't make that assumption."
Two private investigators are suing Scientology for breach of contract, alleging they were hired to spy on the Church's rivals and then let go even though they'd been promised their jobs were permanent.
In the case being heard in San Patricio County, Texas, the investigators, Paul Marrick and Greg Arnold, say they were paid about $500,000 each year since 1988 to keep watch on Pat Broeker, The Dallas Morning News is reporting.
A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of an aggressively contested wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Church of Scientology and three parishioners after the apparent suicide of a Virginia man who died while visiting his Scientologist father in Clearwater.
Kyle Brennan, 20, of Charlottesville, Va., shot himself the night of Feb. 16, 2007, with a handgun he found in his father's apartment, Clearwater police determined.
2012-09-21, Mark Collette, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
According to the lawsuit, Marrick and Arnold have a 25-year history with the church that began after the 1986 death of its founder, Hubbard. Its new leader, Miscavige, employed the two former law enforcement officers -- neither of them Scientologists -- to spy on Pat Broeker, the filing claims. Broeker claimed he, not Miscavige, was Hubbard's chosen successor.
In 2009, when Rathbun began speaking publicly about his role in the church, he described how he sent private investigators -- now identified as Marrick and Arnold -- to track Broeker.
Golden Era Productions, Gilman Hot Springs, CA, produces religious film, video, television, and events. These productions require considerable numbers of sets and props which must be produced to high levels of detail and accuracy, primarily from foam and wood.
A former drug addict who tried to kill himself at a Scientology-affiliated detox clinic is suing the center claiming their extreme treatment caused him to jump off a third floor balcony in a suicide attempt.
William Sweeney filed the lawsuit against Pur Detox in Dana Point, Calif., and Dr. Allan Sosin in the Orange County Superior Court this week, alleging negligence, medical malpractice and negligent supervision, the Court House News reported.
An Oklahoma drug rehab facility is being forced to hand over records that could possibly disclose that some employees are trading drugs in exchange for sex with patients.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied Narconon Arrowhead's request to keep those documents protected.
The documents will soon be released to the attorney representing the family of a young woman who overdosed after being released from the facility in 2008.
A local business owner wants to make clear first he is a devoted Southern Baptist.
Too many people come into Travis Wilkinson's business, Berry Beautiful Salon and Spa, assuming he is a member of the Church of Scientology because of the shop's proximity to downtown Clearwater.
"And as a devoted Southern Baptist, for people to think I'm a Scientologist is very hurtful to me personally," Wilkinson said.
In 1991's “Delirious,” actress Emma Samms mentions to her brother that Candy's character has a strange power over her. “Do you think he's a Scientologist?” the brother replies.
As soon as the filmmakers began showing a rough cut of the film, someone in the church's extensive network of spies tipped off headquarters about the gag. The producer and director began receiving letters and phone calls from others in the industry saying that the joke was offensive and asking that it be cut.
Soon, the communications became more sinister. Lawsuits were threatened. Director Tom Mankiewicz's house was broken into, his personal effects rifled, Premiere magazine reported. The filmmakers eventually caved and cut the line.
David Miscavige took over in '87. In 1988 Miscavige persuaded me to become executive chef for the Gold Base, [near Gilman Hot Springs, Calif.] From '88 to about 1990 I was basically the executive chef. We renovated the main cooking and dining facilities at Gold Base. Three of us feeding 500 people. Miscavige didn't have a personal chef at the time. I was cooking for everyone.
In 1990 when Tom Cruise came by I was assigned as his personal chef. He was doing training, doing courses, he was also getting some auditing. He came with his assistant, Andrea Morris. He had a nice luxury apartment renovated for him. Miscavige set up a whole bunch of facilities for Tom Cruise. He even made a couple of tennis courts. There was a rifle range operated just for Tom Cruise.
Kirstie Alley, Scientology member and friend of Tom Cruise, has come forward to defend Cruise against Vanity Fair's recent claims that the church devised a secret process to audition wives for the actor in 2004.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court is considering a request to block a judge's order for a controversial drug treatment facility to produce records on staff misconduct.
Narconon Arrowhead, a drug detoxification facility rooted in Scientology, filed the request to block the judge's order last month in a negligence lawsuit filed on behalf of Heather Landmeier.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court is considering a request to block a judge's order for a controversial drug treatment facility to produce records on staff misconduct.
Narconon Arrowhead, a drug detoxification facility rooted in Scientology, filed the request to block the judge's order last month in a negligence lawsuit filed on behalf of Heather Landmeier.
2012-09-06, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
The Voice has obtained a remarkable document -- a letter from Scientology's attorneys which explains how the church would agree to forgive almost $43,000 in court costs if Marc and Claire Headley agree to turn over information about former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun and "others involved in disparaging" the church, "including any media contacts."
He moved to Philadelphia after graduating from the Boston school and began working as a pharmacist. Most recently he had been living in the Guest Inn near downtown Norcross working as a counselor at Narcanon of Georgia, a Norcross-based drug rehab center.
The details are a bit incomplete, but his mother said he had entered Narcanon for an alcohol addiction, and after finishing the program, he completed a training program in April to become a Narcanon counselor so he could help others.
Ronald Joseph Corona Jr., 39, of Berwick, passed away on Monday, August 13, 2012. Born in Berwick on November 19, 1972, he was the son of Joanna Ursi and the late Ronald Joseph Corona Sr., who passed away on January 18, 2011.
Jamie DeWolf is most well known for being the host of Tourettes Without Regrets, a renegade show in which he displays weird, artistic, hilarious, vulgar, sexual, and insanely talented performers. Tourettes has won "Best of the Bay" from the SF Guardian and "Best Underground Cultural Event" by the East Bay Express.
You might also know that DeWolf is very charismatic, with an on-stage magnetism and swagger that few can rival. What you might not know, however, is that DeWolf is the great grandson of L. Ron Hubbard, the man-made saint of Scientology.
2012-08-26, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We're moving Carnegie Mellon University professor Dave Touretzky up in our list this year. Touretzky is known for his many years of gathering and hosting information at his websites that describe Scientology's secret upper-level teachings and other detailed research. But it's Touretzky's dedication to getting out information about Scientology's drug treatment program, Narconon, which is making a big difference this year as the church's rehab centers have become the center of controversy. We've referred to Touretzky's pages often in our stories, and we hope readers use them to come to the understanding that Narconon's issues are longstanding and systemic.
Several former Narconon students and families of students interviewed by the World said they contacted drug addiction counselors through various websites. The counselors then recommended the family look into Narconon for rehab.
Search the Internet for help with drug rehab, and there's a chance you'll find one of 235 websites owned and operated by Dena Goad of Bixby. Goad owns her own business involving 1-800 hotline numbers attached to her websites, she said.
Although this was the last official sighting of the 36-year-old man, police say they have one other potential sighting on July 25 when it is believed Mr Somers attended a meeting at the Church of Scientology office in Ebrington Street.
Corona had been found early Monday behind an office at 25 Technology Parkway. The Homicide Unit had initially been called to investigate when police discovered several injuries to the victim's head. However, after a medical examination, it was determined the man did not die from his injuries.
Hillary Holten of Carrolton, Texas, died April 11 after entering Narconon Arrowhead, a nonmedical drug-detoxification facility on Lake Eufaula near McAlester.
Holten is one of three Narconon Arrowhead patrons to die since October. As a result of those deaths, the facility is being investigated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
2012-08-23, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
L. Ron Hubbard's great-grandson moves up a few spots on our list this year after the way his profile has been rising lately. After the TomKat split, DeWolf was asked to make some comments, and an interview he gave to a Bay Area local television station got picked up and went around the world a few times. We'd predicted big things for Jamie, who has a lot of talent and charm, and isn't afraid to speak freely about his great-grandad.
No drug and alcohol rehabilitation center is perfect. Meeting the needs of clients who come to facilities with a whole lot of baggage, including addiction and other behavioral and emotional issues, is a difficult job requiring close observation by a well-trained staff.
That said, three client deaths in the past year at the Narconon Arrowhead rehab facility on Lake Eufaula demand answers. Why and how did these three people die? Could more have been done to prevent their deaths?
2012-08-19, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
This year, summer has not been languid and lazy. In the wake of the TomKat divorce, media interest in Scientology has never been greater and we've never been busier. But we thought it was time to update our list from last year. This time, we've put a premium on what's happened in the last twelve months, so you might see some of your old favorites drop off the roster. But never fear -- you can always revisit our choices from last year, or the choices of our readers.
2012-08-18, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Catton became president of the facility in 2002. And he says he became aware that Gary Smith, the center's executive director, and other officials were very worried: in the time since Narconon had received the 1992 exemption, the law had changed, and if the state took a hard look at its certification, the place might not stay open, Catton says. He explains that when the state accepted the CARF approval, the state did so only to certify the initial part of Narconon's four-part program of treatment.
"They were worried that they had to get their entire program certified by the state, or get the law changed, or they would not be allowed to operate at all," he told me.
"It should be noted that while I was there the use and distribution of drugs by 'students' ... and staff was rampant," the complainant wrote to Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services officials.
"I was asked on numerous occasions if I wanted any drugs, but since I do not do drugs, I declined. I was offered many different types of drugs, ones I had never even heard of. By observation, no one was concerned about the drug use at this time."
Department of Mental Health spokesman Jeffrey Dismukes said he could not confirm any action the department took as a result of the complaint because he could not discuss an ongoing investigation.
2012-08-16, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
But standing in their way was the editor of a small weekly newspaper who proceeded to give Scientology hell over the next three years. His name is Bob Lobsinger, and this week I had a lengthy conversation with him.
"If they'd just come in here and been honest about who they were and what they wanted, it probably would have flown. But they lied every step of the way," Lobsinger told me by telephone from his home in Newkirk, Oklahoma.
Four deaths at Narconon's signature treatment facility in eastern Oklahoma have prompted local law enforcement and health officials to investigate the center and its program.
The inquiry began after Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, was found dead in her room on July 19 after returning to the facility from a one-day leave. The cause of death is under investigation.
2012-08-14, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Three deaths have occurred at the center since October, and the most recent of them, Stacy Murphy, 20, was found on the morning of July 19.
A former patient who knew Stacy told us what conditions were like at the center, which uses Scientology's odd "training routines" rather than drug counseling. We also talked to a former employee of the facility who told us about the shaky history of Narconon Arrowhead's certification by the state of Oklahoma. Even before the recent deaths, he told us, officials at the center had worried that its certification was "vulnerable."
And now, we have startling information about the connection between Narconon and Scientology itself which, like so many other stories we've explored here, brings us right back to church leader David Miscavige's concentration camp for executives, known as "The Hole."
St Jude and St Paul's Primary School, in Kingsbury Road, Newington Green, arranged for Narconon to come in to teach the Year 6 pupils about the dangers of drug abuse before the end of term.
Narconon offer drug and rehabilitation services based on the writings of L Ron Hubbard, the man who inspired Scientology - a religion famously followed by Tom Cruise. But critics claim Narconon's rehab centres are used to help recruit people to the controversial church.
2012-08-02, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Harrowing accounts of what occurred in The Hole turned up in a 2009 investigation by Joe Childs and Tom Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times, in Marc Headley's 2009 book Blown for Good, and in Janet Reitman's 2011 history of the church, Inside Scientology.
Then, this year, we heard from two additional sources about conditions in The Hole -- Debbie Cook's dramatic court testimony this February in San Antonio, and Mike Rinder's Voice video interview in March. (At Cook's hearing in February, the church put out a statement denying that The Hole exists. But the attorney who uttered that denial was not, as Cook, under oath in a court of law. He's also outnumbered by numerous former Scientologists who have spoken about the church's concentration camp with utter consistency.)
2012-07-29, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Brousseau helped convey Hubbard's instructions to the church after the aging writer went into seclusion. Brousseau lived for several years under an assumed name as he ran a Mojave Desert ranch in case Hubbard needed to hide there. And after Hubbard's death in 1986, Brousseau served Miscavige at Scientology's Int Base until Miscavige had him sent to a prison program for three years. After his return, Brousseau was surprised when Miscavige restored him to a position in Scientology's most powerful entity, RTC -- which allowed him to do more work for Tom Cruise.
And now we continue with part two....
2012-07-28, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
In some ways, Brousseau's tale is one of the most remarkable to come out of the secretive organization, and one that parallels so much of Scientology's own development and controversies.
He and Miscavige were brothers in law. They were both young cameramen working for Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard during his movie-making phase. Brousseau was Hubbard's personal chauffeur and helped maintain the cloak of secrecy when Hubbard vanished for good. He watched Miscavige transform Scientology and turn its base into a prison camp. He worked for Tom Cruise, which included serving in the household with Cruise and Katie Holmes. And having worked closely with both Cruise and Miscavige, he has choice things to say about the nature of their relationship.
'Scientology is basically a pyramid scheme that sells secrets and they sell them under the guise of self-help,' Mr DeWolf said to CBS.
'Tom Cruise is another victim of the mirage that my great-grandfather created around himself.'
He says that the church is so demanding, so unforgiving, that he is putting himself in danger just by agreeing to speak on camera.
'Scientology is toxic; it's a poison and it's destroyed everyone that it's come into contact with it.'
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation turned over its investigation in connection with the July 19 death of Stacy Murphy to the Pittsburg County authorities. Murphy died at Narconon Arrowhead, a nonprofit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center located on Lake Eufaula near Canadian.
"After looking at the OSBI report and additional witness statements, the District Attorney's Office has requested the Sheriff's Office to further investigate," said Richard Hull, assistant district attorney.
“After looking at the OSBI report and additional witness statements, the District Attorney's Office has requested the Sheriff's Office to further investigate,” said Richard Hull, assistant district attorney.
“The District Attorney's Office requested all reports on all three victims,” said Sheriff Joel Kerns, referring to two other deaths that also occurred at the Narconon facility in the past nine months.
Hillary Holten, 21, of Carrollton, Texas, died April 11, and Gabriel Graves, 32, of Owasso, died Oct. 26.
A Pittsburg County drug rehabilitation center is under investigation after a third patient died within a nine-month period, Sheriff Joel Kerns said Monday.
The death of Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, of Owasso is the latest in a string of deaths at Narconon Arrowhead.
2012-07-22, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
It was a pamphlet, dated 1969, titled "A Report to Members of Parliament on Scientology."
The 14-page item was published by Scientology's "World-Wide Public Relations Bureau" at East Grinstead in Sussex. It contains the church's responses to various objections to Scientology that had been raised by the UK and other Commonwealth governments at the time.
Steve Hall was a member of the Church of Scientology from 1987 to 2004, and was a marketing staffer in Scientology's international management headquarters in Gilman Hot Springs, near Hemet, California. He wrote the church's advertising tagline, "Know yourself, know life."
He spent years scripting speeches for Scientology leader David Miscavige and shooting videos for its conventions. He did it all as a volunteer, in return for room and board and a small amount of cash.
While famous Scientologists who donate their money to the church, like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, get to live their own lives at home, Scientologists who volunteer their labor instead can find themselves posted full-time at the Gilman Hot Springs HQ, which is an hour's drive through the desert from Las Vegas.
On Friday morning, Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, was found dead at Narconon Arrowhead in Candian and her father said he wants answers.
Robert "Murphy" Murphy of Owasso said he needs to know her death won't go unnoticed.
2012-07-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
As we've been reporting, Heber, although he's been the president of the church since 1982, had so fallen from favor in the eyes of Scientology leader David Miscavige, he had been seen in public only rarely since around 2004 -- and multiple former church executives say that from at least 2006 to 2010, he was being held in Scientology's hellish office-prison at its International Base, known as "The Hole."
David said that not only has he been told by Scientology workers at the base that he could not talk to his brother, but that if he attempted to come see Heber, he would be turned away.
I just talked to David again, who says our story produced a very surprising result: this morning, Heber called him and angrily berated him for talking to the press.
A young woman says she was held against her will at Narconon Arrowhead and had to be rescued by Pittsburg County Sheriffs officers late Thursday night.
Narconon Arrowhead is a non-profit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Canadian with ties to the church of Scientology, according to Gary Smith director of the facility.
Another person has been found dead at Narconon Arrowhead
Stacy Dawn Murphy 20, of Owasso has been found dead at Narconon Arrowhead, according to a report by the PIttsburg County Sheriff's Department.
Four people have died while patients at the facility, three in the last year.
The Church of Scientology received the go-ahead from the City of Sandy Springs to convert an office building into a church space, Tuesday night.
In a 5-1 vote, City Council approved zoning modification conditions to expand the office building, located at Glenridge Drive and Roswell Road.
“Right now the city is at about $90,000 in damages,” said Laurel Henderson, legal counsel for the city."
The document, obtained by RadarOnline, says that during the time Ms DeCrescenzo lived and worked at the church's facilities in Los Angeles, she was forced to work seven days a week, at a total of 100 hours for less than minimum wage.
She was forced to marry at 16 and when she was 17, the documents claim, she fell pregnant and was told to have an abortion. If she did not, the church threatened she would lose her job, her house and her husband.
If she did lose her job, the church were then going to charge Ms DeCrescenzo a 'Freeloader Debt' to the tune of $120,000, according to the documents.
A 'Freeloader Debt' is money owed for on-the-job training and services which members are said to owe the church if they leave before their 'billion-year contract' expires.
Ms DeCrescenzo signed hers when she was just 12 years old.
According to the court documents, Laura Ann claims that she was recruited by the church "at the tender age of nine while living in New Mexcio and moved away from her family to live and work in Defendants' facilities in California when she was a mere twelve years old." However, when she began working for the church several years later, the documents allege, "once Plaintiff began living at Defendants' facilities, Defendants severely restricted Plaintiff's access to the outside world. Plaintiff had limited and restricted access to email, telephone, the internet, or uncensored television. Defendants also opened, read, and censored all mail."
In studying Scientology, I have never been required to believe anything, and I appreciate that. Mr. Hubbard states this in his writings on personal integrity: "What is true for you is what you have observed yourself and when you lose that you have lost everything . Nothing in Dianetics and Scientology is true for you unless you have observed it and it is true according to your observation. That is all."
2012-07-14, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Yesterday, Karen de la Carriere memorialized her son, Alexander Jentzsch, who was found dead at a home in Los Angeles on the morning of July 3. He was only 27 years old.
Because the Church of Scientology would not give her access to her son's ashes, Karen had rose petals cast on the Pacific Ocean as other former members of the church and friends took part in a moving ceremony.
Mr Rathbun also insisted that the Church of Scientology closely monitors the communication of high profile members and orders members to sever ties with suppressive people, particularly those who are critical of the church.
He said: 'That person could be your son, it could be your daughter, it could be your father, it could be your mother. It doesn't matter.'
Speaking about the Cruise children, he said: 'They were being steered toward and indoctrinated toward coming to the conclusion that Nicole was a suppressive person.
So maybe it wasn't as bad as all that, but it was bad enough that People and the L.A. Times report Holmes was sneaking around behind Tom, making plans and using disposable cell phones until she dropped the bomb that she was moving out and asking for a divorce. Tom was apparently caught of guard by this, with a source saying he "was a happy man and thought he had a happy life. He keeps asking, 'What's happening?' "
He should ask ex-wife Kidman, whom Holmes enlisted for advice near the end. Us Weekly reveals Katie had been calling Nicole for support. "They've spoken over the last few weeks," a source told the glossy. "Nicole has been supportive, saying she's been through it too and to hang in there. She has been a private friend not many people know about."
2012-07-11, Victoria Cavaliere, New York Daily News
Greenfields School in England's Sussex countryside describes itself as an "independent day and boarding school from 2 to 18 years old." But those with a close knowledge of the institution tell London's Evening Standard it is "the school of choice" for employees of Saint Hill Manor, Scientology's UK headquarters.
Former students at Greenfields told the Standard that each year, as many as 10 students "disappear," from their normal educational track and are rumored to have been sent to the United States to enroll at Sea Organization, the religious order of the Church of Scientology. Sea Org, which boasts about 6,000 members, is housed in a compound near Los Angeles and devotees purportedly wear Naval-style uniforms.
2012-07-09, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
This morning, more than 10,000 Scientologists found an e-mail from Karen de la Carriere in their inboxes, written in jargon that they will understand, and informing them of the controversy surrounding the death of her son Alexander Jentzsch.
As we reported first on Thursday night, de la Carriere learned about the death of her 27-year-old son more than two days after he was found, unresponsive, at the home of his in-laws in Los Angeles. (The manner of his death is still being investigated, but the county coroner says there is no suspicion of foul play.)
Woodcraft moved from the United Kingfom to Florida with her family as a young teen and was enrolled in a "church backed" school, according to her Daily Mail interview. She claims to have seen her mother only once a week and was told to stop calling her "mom" and to start calling her "sir." Woodcraft also reports that children at the Sea Org branch of the Church of Scientology were kept in a "filthy compound" adorned in "old, torn clothes" and frequently had head lice.
In the fall of 2004, Tanja says she couldn't take it anymore and she jumped the fence surrounding the Scientology base.
"There's razor barrier along the top," said Tanja, "but I managed to get myself over without hurting myself too much. I walked down Highway 79 -- one of the security guards saw me."
Tanja says that security guard alerted Scientology executives, two of whom she claims followed her down the highway in a van.
"She grabbed my arm," said Tanja. "I started shouting and told them to leave me alone."
But Tanja says the Scientology executives eventually convinced her to get in the van and return to the church.
It was distributed by the Office of Special Affairs, which Rathbun describes as the "dirty tricks and propaganda arm of Scientology Inc."
In it, recipients are given details of ways to take action against derogatory online messages which have flooded cyberspace since Cruise, a passionate Scientologist, discovered his wife was leaving him.
Members are urged to scour the Internet for offensive statements and report them to website monitors with a note explaining the comments are in violation of the code of conduct.
"If [there] is only one person (me) reporting these issues, the moderator at Microsoft will not take the comment off," Lattanzi writes in the email. "If you start to have 10 or 20 people reporting it, they are going to take this down."
2012-07-06, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
But now, for the first time in memory, an entire mission has announced that it is defecting from the church en masse.
Israel's Dror Center, in Haifa, announced in a lengthy statement that it is rejecting the leadership of David Miscavige and the official church. It now plans to become a part of the burgeoning "independent Scientology" movement. (We sent a request for comment to the Church of Scientology's media office Wednesday evening, but our message has not been answered.)
2012-07-05, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
One of Scientology's many intriguing mysteries is the disappearance of church leader David Miscavige's wife, Michelle "Shelly" Barnett, who hasn't been seen in public since around 2007.
We've written about Shelly Miscavige in the past, about her strange disappearance, and about the equally mysterious death of her mother, Flo Barnett.
And now that the news media is crazy for any information about Scientology, it's only natural that it would become interested in Shelly. The Business Insider brought up the story on Tuesday, summarizing what Lawrence Wright had said about Shelly in his amazing 2011 profile of Paul Haggis for the New Yorker.
Katie Holmes isn't just parting ways with A-list husband Tom Cruise, she is also divorcing the Church of Scientology.
Holmes is seeking sole custody of their daughter reportedly in part to extricate Suri, 6, from her father's faith before Suri's heavy-duty Scientology education starts.
The grand opening near the former home of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard follows a bitter eviction process for the former tenants of the building complex at the northeast corner of Indianola and 44th Street, which New Times detailed in our October 13, 2011 feature story, "Alien Invasion."
It also follows severe criticism of the religion's mission of recent years to build Ideal Orgs in major U.S. cities. Critics including former top Scientology officials like Debbie Cook have accused the organization and its leader, David Miscavige, of greedily sucking its members dry with incessant fund-raising tactics for real-estate projects that don't advance members' needs.
2012-06-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Tampa Bay Times journalists Joe Childs and Tom Tobin have done it again, surprising us with yet another gem of reporting on the Church of Scientology.
This time, they learned from a man named Jon Donley, who worked as a media consultant for Debbie Cook, that she and her husband, Wayne Baumgarten, are leaving San Antonio this week for a new home on the French island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.
Politicos beware: if you're ever caught glad-handing the Church of Scientology, one of its former members will pay you a visit at a public meeting and give you the verbal version of "Scientology for Dummies."
Paulien Lombard, the former Scientologist who used to spy for church, is continuing her relentless campaign to spread the word about the abuses she says members of the organization suffer at the hands of their leaders. Her latest tour stop was at a Garden Grove City Council meeting.
She said Hubbard's "study technology" would enlighten children and help save the school. But grades from Florida's standardized FCAT test released Thursday show that, in one year under Islam's management, Life Force students' education suffered.
Life Force's third- and fourth-graders scored the lowest or second-lowest passing rates in math, reading and writing of more than 300 elementary schools across Tampa Bay.
2012-05-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Titled "Office of Special Affairs: Der Scientology-Geheimdienst" (Scientology's Secret Service), it included interviews with several people very familiar to readers of this blog: Marc Headley, Mike Rinder, Gerry Armstrong, and Tiziano Lugli. It also featured Ursula Caberta, the Hamburg politician who for years led a state-sponsored attempt to curb Scientology. We spoke to her on the telephone yesterday about the documentary. After the jump, her thoughts, as well as the documentary itself, with English subtitles.
"I think it's a good thing to do 90 minutes only on OSA," Caberta said to me from her home in Hamburg. The documentary focuses on the spy wing of the church, which also handles PR and legal affairs. The filmmakers are especially eager to talk to Rinder, who ran OSA for many years.
Although the pamphlets didn't carry the name Scientology on them, they advertised the Foundation For a Drug-Free World, which is sponsored by Scientology. When I called the number and asked where one should go to get help for drug abuse, I was directed to Narconon Arrowhead on Oklahoma's Lake Eufaula.
According to federal court records, the two parties met in a mediation session on March 26.
The consent order filed on March 30 says the church and the city didn't finalize an agreement during that session but says both sides are willing to consider a revised parking plan. The consent order says city staff needed 30 to 45 days to review the plan, and said any zoning changes would require public notice 15 days in advance of a public hearing. The order also extends the deadline to submit a “proposed consolidated pretrial order” to June 15.
Serious allegations are being made against the Church of Scientology and the anti-drug programmes it runs in New Zealand.
Green MP Kevin Hague has used the protection of Parliamentary privilege to launch a blistering attack on the church, calling its actions repugnant, and accusing it of fleecing the vulnerable and the desperate.
When you're a Scientologist it's like the movie Goodfellas, where the gangsters hang out with only other gangsters. We only hung out with each other, so we knew we were saving the world. There was no question. And we knew anyone who was in our way was suppressive and needed to be shattered. Those are their words: shattered.
The state medical examiner's office wants to take a deeper look at the deaths of two people at a drug rehabilitation center that uses saunas and vitamins as part of an intensive cleansing regimen.
Last month, 21-year-old Hillary Holten died at the Narconon Arrowhead center at Canadian. Last October, 32-year-old Gabriel Graves died. The rehab facility uses techniques developed by Scientology founder and science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and is the training center for Narconon International. Health officials in Quebec closed a Narconon facility last month.
"Mr. L. Ron Hubbard," the old guy said to me, "the bank so appreciates your business all these years, and it's such a pleasure to finally meet you in person."
Oops. No, this was much more than an oops -- this was a genuine oh fuck! It must have been the work of some SP [Suppressive Person -- Scientology's term for a person who is completely and irredeemably evil. Like me today; I'm an SP.] Well, some SP inside the Swiss banking conspiracy had obviously broken into the files of the Religious Research Foundation and falsely linked them to the Old Man. Fuck, fuck, fuck! I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I was a far superior being to the old man -- lying to him came easy.
Mike McCoy, a police community services specialist with the Santa Ana Police Department, confirmed that it is "90 percent" certain that the organization will open that day at Sycamore and Fifth streets at the former Santa Ana Performing Arts and Event Center.
Apparently, the group has failed to launch a couple times over the past few months. McCoy said they've nixed previous opening days.
Les manifestants, la plupart membres du mouvement Anonymous, étaient venus principalement de Montréal et de Québec pour célébrer la fermeture du centre de désintoxication. Ils prenaient le thé sur une table installée sur le bord de la route et dansaient au son d'une musique techno. Sans les affiches, la manifestation aurait pu passer pour une mascarade. "Nous avons gagné et vous avez perdu", disait en anglais dans un porte-voix un des manifestants masqués.
Deux des organisateurs de la manifestation, Pierre-Louis Leclerc et Christian Riopel, disaient lutter depuis plus de cinq ans contre les pratiques de l'Église de scientologie. "Les liens sont clairement établis entre l'Église de scientologie et les centres Narconon", affirme Pierre-Louis Leclerc. "On pratiquait des techniques non prouvées scientifiquement et dangereuses pour les patients."
Dueling lawsuits filed by the Church of Scientology and one of its highest-ranking former executives have been settled out of court.
Debbie Cook had testified in a Texas court that she witnessed church leader David Miscavige physically punch another Scientology executive in the face at the church's international headquarters in Riverside County.
The allegations included seven weeks of captivity in “The Hole,” where Cook said she slept on the floor, was fed “slop,” was coerced into giving false confessions and was beaten, according to previous Express-News reports. She was also forced to stand in a garbage can for 12 hours as water was poured over her head and watched as another man was ordered to lick a bathroom floor clean, she said during four hours of testimony.
She said she had much more to tell. She hoped out loud that raising the curtain on church abuses might spark "a reformation from within."
This week, her voice went silent.
Cook and Scientology settled a church lawsuit that backfired when she took the stand Feb. 9 in San Antonio, Texas.
Cook gave a riveting account of how she and other religious workers were physically and mentally abused at Scientology's desert compound near Los Angeles. She said she was detained and otherwise controlled when she and her husband, also a former church staffer, tried to leave the church's Clearwater campus in 2007.
2012-04-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Earlier this morning we reported that charges had been dropped against Scientology executive Jan Eastgate in Australia.
And now, another stunning development: Marty Rathbun just reported at his blog that the Church of Scientology has settled its lawsuit against former church executive Debbie Cook and her husband Wayne Baumgarten.
I just confirmed this with Debbie's attorney, Ray Jeffrey, who tells me he really can't say anything else about the terms of the settlement
2012-04-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Sunday evening, news began to leak that one of Love's numerous complaints about the treatment center to Canadian authorities was paying off: Quebec health officials ordered the facility closed immediately, even as Narconon appeals the government's finding that it failed miserably in an attempt to get certification for its unscientific methods of treating drug addiction.
Since the news broke, Love has been talking to Canadian journalists as they scrambled to get details on the sudden closing, which came with no advance public word from health officials.
A recent YouTube video features Ed Dearborn, executive director of the Orange County Scientology "org", touting the merits of the organization's Narconon program.
Dearborn says Scientology has been "collaborating with the Santa Ana Police Department on our anti-drug education program, which has been very well accepted by the police departments, particularly Santa Ana, Huntington Beach and a few others."
But former Scientologists say the church is anything but sane. Remember Paulien Lombard, the ex-Scientologist who told us her tales of spying against those hostile to the church?
She spoke at this week's Santa Ana City Council meeting, issuing warnings about Scientology, saying the Ideal Org is scheduled to open on April 28. (I contacted Karin Pouw, church spokeswoman, about the grand opening, and she said when the church opens the Ideal Org, it will let everybody concerned know about it, including the media.)
L'Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de la Mauricie a rencontré lundi les dirigeants de Narconon, un programme de désintoxication liée à l'Église de Scientologie dont Québec aurait révoqué la certification
Sept à huit heures de sauna par jour pendant 21 jours, engueuler un cendrier, ingurgiter des doses massives de vitamine. Voilà le traitement que propose, entre autres, Narconon Trois-Rivières à des toxicomanes.
2012-04-15, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Oh my, do we have a treat for you today. For several weeks now, we've been reporting on the "L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future" contest. For several years, certain writers have questioned the connection between the contest and Scientology, which owns and operates it. And recently, we dug up surprising links between the contest and shocking abuse allegedly happening at Scientology's international headquarters.
2012-04-13, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
When Adams approached Pouw for the church's side of things, she made a stunning admission, which Adams was good enough to share with us.
Karin Pouw has confirmed that a video attacking Rathbun -- made up of footage taken by the "Squirrel Busters" -- was a product of the Church of Scientology, and she also appears to confirm that the vicious attack website where the video appears is also connected to Scientology itself.
For weeks now, we've been looking at these anonymous attack websites, examining them for evidence that connects them to the church, and now, suddenly, Pouw has made that connection for us.
Orange County Scientologists are getting the word out about the happenings in Hubbardville, one YouTube video at a time. Check out ocidealorg's channel!
One video in particular is titled "The Central Files: The Quest For an Ideal Org."
We learned last week that the Church of Scientology in Orange County may be struggling to build its Ideal Org center at Sycamore and Fifth streets at the former Santa Ana Performing Arts and Event Center.
Apparently, they also are short on staff.
A video posted on YouTube shows staffers (including koi fish and a kitty cat) getting zany while urging folks to "Join staff!" Peep the video after the jump.
Here, in this seaside hamlet, full of retirees and fishermen, Marty Rathbun was fighting an extraordinary religious war. The 'squirrel busters' were among its (possibly self-appointed) foot soldiers. At stake in the dispute, which has now been running for almost three years, is the future of one of the world's most controversial and headline-prone spiritual institutions: the Church of Scientology.
Johnson had asked Vikki Williams, the outgoing operations director, for help learning the books. But when they sat down together, Williams couldn't explain why the accounts and the school's QuickBooks accounting software suddenly couldn't be accessed.
"Huh. Someone changed the password," Johnson recalled Williams saying. "At that point, I knew it was a game."
That hasn't been the only surprise in the last few weeks at Life Force, a publicly funded charter elementary school that teachers say was overrun by Scientology influence.
2012-04-06, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Now, with a little more than a week to go before Writers of the Future throws its big annual gala on April 15, Scientology is pulling out the big guns, adding surprising names to this year's party. And someone who ran the contest for many years tells us that can mean only one thing: the contest is in big trouble.
As we reported on March 12, we discovered troubling ties between the prestigious contest -- which brings together some of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy to honor up and coming new writers -- and the startling allegations of abuse at Scientology's international headquarters ("Int Base") about 90 miles east of Los Angeles.
2012-04-04, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
"These were your friends, people you had traveled with," Rinder says. "But then, you get in the Hole? You can't trust anybody."
The forced confessions pitted friends against each other. And the conditions only made it worse. "Everyone sleeping with only about six inches on either side. Above you. Below you. Getting up in the middle of the night, you'd disturb everyone," Rinder says, and more than once compares it to the madness of Lord of the Flies...
2012-03-27, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Soter's second claim is some kind of semantic gamesmanship: at least half a dozen former Scientologists have come forward to speak publicly about -- or, in Debbie Cook's case, testify under oath to -- the existence of "the Hole," a frightening office-prison where 60 to 100 out-of-favor church executives were held day and night under guard, from at least 2004 to 2010.
Soter's first claim is more interesting. If "the Hole" no longer exists, we've been wondering where else such a large number of prisoners could be held at "Int Base," Scientology's 700-acre compound near Hemet, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles.
2012-03-26, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
This year, Frederick was invited back as a past winner to help put on the week-long workshops that a new set of winners will enjoy during their week of pampering this April.
But then, Frederick read our March 12 story about the troubling connections between Scientology's alleged abuses and an administrator of the contest, which the church owns. He announced in our comments section some stunning news: "After reading Tony's article and the comments, I decided to sever my Writers of the Future ties and forgo the free trip/vacation in L.A."
In 2009, Alley's Clearwater-based company registered the trademark for Organic Liaison, a line of supplements, sleep aids, muscle relaxers and colon cleansers.
The company seemed an understandable next step for Alley, 61, once the butt of gossip magazine weight jokes. She had recently left as spokeswoman for weight-loss conglomerate Jenny Craig.
But on that same day, Organic Liaison also registered a much less predictable trademark: Organic Liaison Life Insurance Solutions.
While the pending litigation is not described, the city was recently ordered into mediation with the Church of Scientology regarding its lawsuit against the city. The church is suing the city over the church's application to open at 5395 Roswell Road. The city approved the application in 2009, but did not allow the church to expand space at the building because of limited parking, sparking a lawsuit that alleged the city violated the church's religious freedom.
2012-03-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
And, as mentioned in the comments, here is Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder talking about David Miscavige's obsession with the movie behind the scenes. (They're being filmed fishing from Marty's backyard in Ingleside on the Bay, Texas by Rinder's lovely girlfriend, Christie Collbran.)
It was around noon Saturday and Hageli held signs and wore a Guy Fawkes mask (similar to the character in the movie V for Vendetta) in the shadows of the Fort Harrison and Flag building at Court Street and Ft. Harrison Avenue.
This is the second year he has come to Clearwater from Chicago to protest the Church of Scientology birthday celebration of founder L. Ron Hubbard. Hageli, a lawyer, said he made friends and had so much fun the year earlier protesting at the birthday party he wanted to come back.
2012-03-12, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
The "L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers of the Future" and Illustrators of the Future contests are prestigious and lucrative. They feature judges who are among the biggest names in the field, and they've helped launch the careers of important new artists.
Over the years, however, questions have been raised about the contests and their connection to Scientology. And those questions are getting more pointed with news of the church's abuses increasingly reaching the public -- such as Debbie Cook's recent court testimony about the torture of church executives at "The Hole," an office-prison at Scientology's California international headquarters.
But is there really any connection between a science fiction contest's glitzy parties in Los Angeles and the shocking abuse going on at the church's headquarters about 90 miles away?
The Voice has learned that the connection between the two is disturbingly close.
2012-03-09, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
This morning, Bexar County District Judge Cathy Stryker told Scientology to cool its jets.
She pushed back a hearing on its motion for summary judgment from March 23 to May 7. In the meantime, the church will have to answer Cook's request for a deposition by naming a church official who can be made available for it. And, by next week, the church should have to begin answering some of Cook's other requests for information.
"It was a good day for us, and they didn't seem to leave the courtroom very happy," Ray Jeffrey told me this afternoon by telephone.
A woman claims in Superior Court that Narconon of Northern California offered incompetent care for her sister's addiction, misrepresented its "success rate," and failed to inform her that the place is "a recruiting tool for the [nonparty] Church of Scientology."
The Tampa Bay Times reported last month that administrators at Life Force, which earns about $800,000 in public funds a year, compelled students to learn "study technology," a methodology devised by Scientology's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
Students at the public charter school advertised as the SMART Academy were also taken on a field trip to a Scientology church in Ybor City. More than $30,000 in school funds has been given to the World Literacy Crusade, a California-based group that promotes Hubbard's "study tech."
2012-03-07, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Last night, we learned about the church's countermove: its attorneys asked the court to delay the production of documents until their motion for summary judgment has been adjudicated. And if the motion is not granted, to delay the deposition and limit it in scope.
Oh, and one more thing: "That Rathbun and Rinder be excluded from the deposition."
2012-03-06, John O'Conner, StateImpact Florida, NPR
"If corrections can not be made then I think we should close the school," says school board member Carol Cook.
The school uses a controversial curriculum from the Church of Scientology, first reported by the Tampa Bay Times. But school board members said Scientology did not affect their decision.
Sarah Parker teaches 1st grade at Life Force Academy. She says the school does not teach religion.
"I don't know anything about Scientology," says Parker, who is Episcopal. "So to imply I was pushing Scientology. I'm sorry I wasn't."
2012-03-05, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
They survived the Nazi occupation, but they had lost their parents. In 1946, Suzy was adopted by their aunt and uncle. Two years later, Paulette was adopted by the Coopers, a wealthy couple who took her to the United States.
A memo by Pinellas County schools superintendent John Stewart urges the School Board to issue a 90-day notice of termination to Life Force and criticizes its budget, discipline system and leadership.
The school's curriculum, Stewart notes, was changed "without permission" from district officials. He adds that the school also has been operating under an unauthorized new name, the SMART Academy, since last month.
The Tampa Bay Times reported Sunday that Life Force administrators forced students to learn "study technology," a teaching methodology devised by the Church of Scientology's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
For 17 years Debbie Cook ran the church's spiritual mecca, the so-called Flag Base in Clearwater, Florida, where she ultimately rose to the title of captain. But Cook testified this month that beginning in 2005 she saw behavior exhibited by church leader David Miscavige that disturbed her deeply.
"I witnessed Mr. Miscavige physically punching in the face and wrestling to the ground another very senior executive at Scientology International level," Cook testified in court.
Life Force Arts and Technology Academy leaders asked the district last month to amend the embattled school's charter to provide for a fresh start.
But amid concerns that the tax-supported elementary school uses "study technology," a Scientology teaching method criticized as a covert recruiting tool, superintendent John Stewart recommended the School Board reject the charter amendments at its meeting March 6.
A scathing report unveils the ways how leaders of a Florida charter school are using their position as a way to teach unknowing students the advantages of Scientology.
Students at The Life Force Arts and Technology school near Tampa, Florida were taught using methods championed by the creator of Scientology and they were taken to temples during school-sponsored field trips.
Though the school receives $800,000 in federal funds, it is still struggling financially and students were forced to print out their own reading materials at home in order get around mismanaged budgets.
Revelations that the drug-free ambassadors were given taxpayer cash to publish drug awareness pamphlets based on Scientology teachings, have also sparked a review by the Department of Internal Affairs.
The group, and its sister organisation Drug Free Aotearoa, received around $10,000 from various Community Organisation Grants Schemes committees during 2011.
Drug education experts say the information in the pamphlets funded by the grants is not based on science, and should not be given government money or disseminated by schools.
Some parents and former teachers at Life Force, which receives about $800,000 a year in public funding, say the Pinellas County charter school has become a Scientology recruiting post targeting children.
Opened to serve a low-income Clearwater neighborhood and advertising classes in computers and modern dance, Life Force had begun pushing Hubbard's "study technology," which critics call a Trojan horse Scientology uses to infiltrate public classrooms.
And while Life Force students and teachers worked in poorly stocked classrooms and teachers went unpaid, the bankrupt school funneled tens of thousands of dollars more to Islam's business interests than she told the bankruptcy court she would charge.
However, Ms Paris's claims were backed up by a former senior executive on the Freewinds, Ramana Dienes-Browning.
"She made it very clear she did not want to be there," she claimed. "She had been sent to the ship so as not to be in contact with one of her parents and that is not what she wanted. She was very, very distressed."
SCIENTOLOGISTS have asked the federal government for an exemption to the Fair Work Act so they do not have to pay workers the minimum wage.
In a submission to the Fair Work review, public affairs director Reverend Mary Anderson said the Church of Scientology, which believes Earth was founded 75 million years ago by an alien tyrant called Xenu, should be exempt from workplace law because it was a legitimate religion.
"The Fair Work Act review process should not be treated as an opportunity to air extremist and farcical viewpoints devoid of facts.
"This attitude that an employer should have complete free rein to pay and treat their staff however they want has no place in the modern Australia."
2012-02-22, Eric J. Weilbacher, San Antonio Express-News
The church was seeking a gag order on the couple for speaking about their experience in the church, as well as for speaking about Scientology in general.
"I think they believed they could simply get a gag order," Jeffrey said. "I think they were surprised when she got an attorney."
There is now a stay in the trial, and no further date set for it to continue.
The Ingleside on the Bay Citizen Crime Watch committee held a town hall meeting on Thursday, Feb. 16 to announce its plans with the program and hear advice from local law enforcement.
Crime watch coordinator Joe Watson explained that the committee was formed in response to the unsolicited filming of local resident and former Scientology official Mark Rathbun, as well as potential industrial encroachment.
Advice offered in the pamphlets is based on research by Scientology's controversial founder, LRon Hubbard, who did not believe in medical drugs or psychiatry but instead in purging oneself of painful experiences to gain immortality.
Ross Bell, executive director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, warned that the group's information was flawed pseudo-science and could prove harmful to youth.
2012-02-18, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
It was another fine week of commenting -- there were many more great observations and intelligent questions, and great back-and-forths going on. Let's keep up the momentum! Tomorrow morning, stop by for a helping of Sunday Funnies, and then for the Monday holiday, we'll have a special little treat I hope you enjoy.
In shocking court testimony a former Scientologist said she was locked up, beaten and tortured by the religion's senior members in a desert compound in California.
Debbie Cook, 50, was once a senior executive in Scientology who left the church in 2007, and she claimed on the stand that she was held against her will for 45 days in an ant-infested trailer.
2012-02-16, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
The vaults are the project of the Church of Spiritual Technology, a hush-hush entity inside Scientology that owns the trademarks and copyrights to L. Ron Hubbard's works, and that digs very expensive holes in the ground to store copies of Hubbard's writings so that they can survive a nuclear holocaust. Houses are also built near the vaults, and former CST employee Dylan Gill told us the purpose of these houses was to provide places for a reincarnated Hubbard to be raised in preparation of taking over Scientology.
After the story ran, Gill told us he noticed that readers wanted to know which of the "LRH Houses" the reincarnated Hubbard was most likely to return to. He told us the answer, and it turned out to be none of the places we showed on Monday.
“In the midst of all this we find out that a certain amount of money over the course of that fraudulent transfer period was paid to Church of Scientology entities,” said the trustee's attorney Frank Terzo.
That is the crux of the complaint. The trustee states Piedra's practice “perpetrated a scheme to defraud patients,” and in the four years prior to the bankruptcy filing approximately $2.2 million were transferred from the practice to various Church of Scientology-related entities.
“We did settle with the church for almost, with all the affiliates approximately $400,000,” said Makumal.
Debbie Cook, a former Scientology executive, is being sued for breach of contract for criticizing the church in an email after she signed an agreement promising to remain silent. Last week, she took the stand in a San Antonio courthouse and testified about what she said happened on the property near Hemet in trailers she called "The Hole."
"There's a place called 'The Hole,' the windows were barred, the one entrance was guarded by security 24 hours a day," she said on the witness stand.
For 17 years, Cook was Captain of the church's Flag Service Organization, which is Scientology's spiritual Mecca in Clearwater, Fla.
In the fall of 2007, leaders dragged Cook and her husband back to Clearwater, Fla., Scientology's spiritual mecca, where she spent three more weeks in confinement, in and out of forced confessions with church officials, hoping for a path out. Then the church provided one: by signing a sweeping non-disclosure contract, agreeing to never speak ill of the church, she could leave. “I would have signed I stabbed babies over and over again and loved it. I would have done anything at that point,” Cook said in sworn court testimony last week. “If I had refused to sign the agreement, then I wouldn't have been able to leave.”
2012-02-14, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Reporter Bryan Seymour at the Base: "Scientology promised us someone would come and talk to us, that hasn't happened. I couldn't get through on the phone. More than 50 requests for interviews on camera have been flatly refused. The bottom line is they don't want people to know what's going on inside there, those who've lived in there like Shane, say it's like a gulag, a prison and yet it's in the middle of a suburb, it could be any suburb in Australia. People here would he horrified to know what has been going on in there for so many years and continues to this day."
After explosive trial testimony last week, the Church of Scientology abandoned its quest to silence a former church official it sued for breach of a confidentiality agreement, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
2012-02-13, Matt Reynolds, Courthouse News Service
Husband and wife Claire and Marc Headley each filed complaints against the Church of Scientology under the Trafficking Victims Act after leaving the Sea Organization, an order of Scientology in which members work long hours and perform hard labor without pay.
The Headleys worked at the church from the early 1990s until 2005. Claire Headley claimed that the church prohibited her from having children and was coerced into having two abortions. She also alleged that members who tried to leave the church were followed, brought back, and deprived of food and sleep, among other punishments.
2012-02-11, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We can't remember a time when the attorneys of the Church of Scientology gave up on a case like they did today when they withdrew their request for a temporary injunction that would keep Debbie Cook and Wayne Baumgarten under a gag order until the church's lawsuit against them could come to trial.
That trial may still happen, but for now Cook and Baumgarten are free to talk to the press. So several reporters sat down with them Friday to talk about where they go from here.
Stung by damaging testimony about its inner workings, the Church of Scientology abruptly ended its effort to silence former Clearwater leader Debbie Cook on Friday, beating an uncharacteristic legal retreat and emboldening Cook to keep talking.
Just hours after the church dropped its request for an injunction enforcing a confidentiality agreement with Cook, she sat with reporters and said she hopes the turbulent events of the past few days open church members' eyes.
"I'm hoping that it will create a reformation from within," said Cook, who had previously declined to talk to the media.
2012-02-10, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
If you're just joining us, the Church of Scientology is suing one of its former high-ranking officials, Debbie Cook, and her husband, Wayne Baumgarten, who live here in San Antonio. Cook was something of a legend inside Scientology, and for many was the "face" of the religion. But her final couple of years, she testified yesterday, featured confinement and degradation on an almost unbelievable scale. She says she gladly signed a draconian non-disclosure agreement and accepted $50,000 in payment simply in order to get away from the church. Then, this past New Year's Eve, she sent out an e-mail to thousands of her fellow church members, complaining in part about how Scientology, under leader David Miscavige, is too focused on "extreme fundraising."
2012-02-09, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
What an amazing time we had reporting from the Bexar County Courthouse today as Debbie Cook testified in the lawsuit filed against her by her former employer, the Church of Scientology.
We got back to our hotel room and saw for the first time the amazing comments left by our loyal readers. (Our Internet connection in the courtroom was very limited.) Good to see that this day seemed to have as much impact for so many of you as it did for us.
I won't go over everything that happened today. Please revisit our live updates from the hearing, or read excellent stories by the Tampa Bay Times and the San Antonio Express News.
2012-02-08, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Scientology is suing Cook for sending out a New Year's Eve e-mail to thousands of her fellow church members in which she complained that the church, with its focus on "extreme fundraising," has wandered from the principles of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. The church claims in its lawsuit that Cook's e-mail was a violation of a non-disclosure agreement she signed in 2007, when she left her position on church staff and accepted a payment of $50,000. Cook, we believe, will attempt to introduce evidence that she signed the agreement under duress after her career in Scientology's "Sea Org" had become unbearable (we have previously written about homophobic hazing Cook was made to endure, and we hear that she is prepared to present evidence of far worse treatment).
2012-02-06, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
"I was in international management and the Watchdog Committee for 20 years, and I never knew where CST was, the whole time," says Amy Scobee, a former high-ranking church official.
"CST was very hush-hush. Even among the Int staff, it wasn't well known. Anyone coming from CST, it was very sensitive," says Gary Morehead, who was chief of security at Int Base and oversaw the interrogation of executives who had gone awry. He had to sign a bond promising that he'd keep confidential anything that came out in those interrogations, which are known as "sec-checking." When it came to CST executives, however, Morehead says he had to sign a second bond.
Unsure where the question originated Millar had asked his son why he was asking - and discovered the US-based cult advertising on Nursery TV, an iPhone App from Rotherham-based company Music Factory Entertainment Group Ltd.
Peter Parkin, chief executive of the Yorkshire-based company, said he was shocked and disappointed and would be demanding an explanation from Google but said it was out of his control. He said: "The mechanism's that control advertising content are controlled by Google on Google AdMob, they look at browsing history and the type of App and in theory as I understand it this sort of thing should not happen.
A Paris court is to rule Thursday in an appeal against a fine of hundreds of thousands of euros imposed on the Church of Scientology after it was found guilty of fleecing vulnerable followers.
A 2009 fraud conviction saw Scientology's Celebrity Centre and its bookshop in Paris, the two branches of its French operations, ordered to pay 600,000 euros ($790,000) in fines for preying financially on several followers in the 1990s.
The Church of Scientology relies heavily on First Amendment religious freedoms to shield itself from scrutiny in this country, but it is awfully quick to suppress freedom of speech that enjoys the same constitutional protections. The same church that raises the specter of Nazi oppression whenever it faces inquiry from German and French officials, expects its former, hardworking employees in the United States to sign away their free speech rights for as little as $500 in severance. The First Amendment is not a buffet where some rights are recognized and other inconvenient ones are ignored.
2012-01-27, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Last summer, we brought you extensive coverage of Scientology's bizarre siege of a South Texas home. A goon squad calling itself the "Squirrel Busters" claimed to be a documentary crew making a film about former high-ranking church executive Marty Rathbun. The intimidation squad even managed to get Rathbun arrested.
Well, here's yet another collection of their footage, as Scientology continues to try to convince someone (who, we're not sure), that a series of 2009 stories revealing the violent nature of Scientology leader David Miscavige got things wrong and that Rathbun is the violent one, not DM.
After the jump: while Scientology still argues over allegations that are nearly three years old, Rathbun keeps hitting the church where it hurts.
However, I was intrigued to read of Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis alleging the organisation had employed private detectives to rake through his bins. I used to fancy being a private detective, but think I'll give it a miss now. Paul claims they're raking his rubbish to find material that could discredit him after he left the loopy outfit. How does that work then?
2012-01-18, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Meshell and Heather tell me what the two women from Scientology then told Edie: "You've been declared. We need you to sign this paper that says you've been declared."
Meshell tried to make me understand what those words meant to Edie, a woman who had given decades of her life to Scientology. It was as if your church, or some other organization that is important to you, had sent representatives to tell you that you are now considered beneath contempt, a nonperson, an evil entity. And they do this while presenting you with a three-page list of your shortcomings and evil deeds.
Scientology is known for being one of the more unusual - and secretive - religions, but we almost feel like signing up ourselves having seen that practitioners at the new Super Power Building will get access to an "infinite pit" and an "oiliness table." Details of the $100m "Flag Mecca" facility in Clearwater, Florida leaked to?The Village Voice, spilling hints at some of the more esoteric equipment being installed. According to the plans, there'll be everything from a wall made of water to an "Electric Fields Generator."
2012-01-17, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
On drawings we looked at last night, we noticed something that seemed to be missing on other blueprints. Near the Sound Rooms -- a couple of circular chambers -- there was something called "Barriers." Looking around some more, we found this drawing, which was labeled, Solid Barriers, Infinite Pit, and Water Wall.
Wait a minute. Did they say Infinite Pit!
For five months, the Squirrel Busters flitted around in their golf cart and popped up with cameras everywhere Marty Rathbun went, even filming him from a paddleboat in the canal behind his house. They engaged in what the sheriff's chief deputy and the county attorney called provocation until Rathbun snatched a pair of sunglasses from one of the Squirrel Busters, leaving a scratch on his forehead. They filed charges to have Rathbun arrested for assault; the county attorney dropped the case.
After OpTunisia and OpHBGary, most of 2011's Anonymous major actions fell into one of two camps: the activist and lulzy hacking. But the old culture went on as well, the lolcats of 4chan, the protests in front of the Church of Scientology. Anonymous only got harder to characterize, and there were no anons that agreed with all of the collective, except maybe about liking cats.
A leading Scientologist is attempting to spark a revolt against chief David Miscavige, who has led the organization since the death of L. Ron Hubbard 26 years ago.
Miscavige has ignored the teaching of L. Ron Hubbard and turned Scientology into a fundraising machine that bleeds wealthy members dry to construct lavish buildings and stockpile more than $1 billion in cash, Debra Cook wrote in an email to more than 12,000 current and former Scientologists. Cook was a top-ranking Scientology executive for decades before leaving the organization's payroll to start an Internet firm in 2008.
Debbie Cook, a former executive with the Church of Scientology has revealed she believes the church has become greedy and corrupt under the leadership of David Miscavige.
Cook, who worked at the church's Sea Org group in Clearwater, Fla., sent an email containing criticisms of the church's management to about 12,000 Scientologists on New Year's Day, according to the Village Voice, which first broke the story.
It is particularly striking that the internal criticism came from a prominent leader and not from a disgruntled defector of the highly secretive church, the newspaper notes.
In her e-mail, Cook said the church is hoarding "well in excess of a billion dollars" yet continues to press members aggressively to contribute more, using intimidation tactics including threats that their "spiriitual progress" will be slowed, The Times reports.
2012-01-03, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
UPDATE: We look back at Debbie Cook's career, from enforcer to whistleblower.
The world of Scientology watching is still reeling after Debbie Cook's New Year's Eve e-mail landed in the inboxes of thousands of church members Saturday night.
A few minutes after midnight, we began receiving copies of the broadside, written by one of Scientology's most important former executives. Citing the words of L. Ron Hubbard, Cook trashed the church's current management under leader David Miscavige, complaining about a "new age of continuous fundraising" and "extreme over-regging."
According to Cook, an obsession with money was contrary to Hubbard's teachings and a distraction from efforts to disseminate his beliefs.
Cook goes on to accuse Miscavige of dismantling the church's original structure. She cites the construction of lavish headquarter buildings that remain empty and the removal of a Watchdog Committee. She also accuses him of getting rid of laws designed to prevent the church from turning into a "one-man dictatorship."
The Squirrel Busters film crew trying to make a movie about Church of Scientology defector Mark Rathbun topped the Caller.com online reader poll of 2011's biggest stories.
"Squirrel," it should be noted, is Scientologist jargon for a heretic.
2012-01-01, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Although we've written hundreds of articles about Scientology over the years, and other news organizations have contributed hundreds more -- not to mention the numerous books, television programs, and countless websites dedicated to the subject -- without fail we regularly run into people who ask us, "Yeah, but what is Scientology?"
We can't blame them. One of Scientology's appeals is its complexity and secrecy, and it can take years to fully absorb some of its arcane concepts. So for those coming to the subject for the first time, as well as those who want a deeper understanding, we're starting off the new year with this handy guide to L. Ron Hubbard's creation. We'll introduce concepts at a basic level, and provide links to further reading. With the help of our amazing commenting community -- which includes former Scientology executives with decades of experience -- we'll all learn more about an enigmatic organization that begins another crucial year of transition.
2011-12-26, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We're going to start off our end-of-year celebrations this week by revealing which video you selected as the best of 2011.
My thanks to our readers who participated in the poll. We had many interesting videos to choose from this year; some were new, others were rediscovered, and every one made an impact.
2011-12-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
That accusation has been made previously about Joseph K. Grieboski, who blogs at Huffington Post's Religion section and runs something he calls the Institute on Religion and Foreign Policy. In 2009, former Scientologist Gerry Armstrong accused Grieboski of taking money from Scientology, claiming that he'd talked to a former Institute employee who told him of the connection.
And now Rathbun comes forward with a document from Scientology's Office of Special Affairs -- the church's intelligence and covert operations wing -- which suggests that Grieboski was employed to actively temper anti-Scientology sentiment in European countries. Previously, we've authenticated Rathbun's leaks of OSA documents, including spying operations against Marc Headley, Mark Ebner, and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
And besides, another former top Scientology official tells the Voice that he has personal information about Grieboski's employment with the church.
2011-12-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
While he's playing Hubbard's words, Gorman himself barks things at the workers intended to make them question their faith. He's not subtle about it. He's deliberately trying to get under their skin. Many of them, in fact, know Gorman well. He grew up in Scientology and worked at the San Francisco org for years until leaving in 2001. In 2005, he began protesting Scientology, and his intense -- but peaceful -- demonstrations have resulted in more than one org worker taking a swing at him.
On Saturday, Gorman found himself being charged by a large, angry Scientologist whose rather remarkable bull-rush was caught on video being filmed by Gorman's wife, Jennifer. The man took several swings at him, Gorman says, and after reporting the incident to the police, he was told charges would be filed against the man. After the jump, what we've learned so far about the angry Scientologist, the incident, and Tommy and Jennifer Gorman and their history with the church...
2011-12-20, Marimer Matos, Courthouse News Service
The mother of a boy who killed himself cannot sue his father and the Church of Scientology for taking away his antidepressants, a federal judge ruled.
Victoria Britton filed suit in 2009 over the death of her 20-year-old son, Kyle Thomas Brennan, after he visited with his father in Clearwater, Fla., in February 2007.
2011-12-16, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
On November 18, we started a new feature here on Fridays: the Voice has obtained hundreds of copies of L. Ron Hubbard's previously unpublished "Orders of the Day," which he gave to crew members as he sailed the Mediterranean. Our documents cover the period from 1968 to 1971, and this time we're looking at what was happening the week of December 11 through 17 during those years.
After the jump, LRH plows past OT VII to OT VIII...
More enquiries revealed that the trip's organisers had hired an agency that specialised in arranging for crowds for celebrity events.
An official from that agency, who was present at the airport, said that each person was paid an average of Rs 300 to be a part of the crowd and cheer for Tom for 15 mins. "We asked them to reach here by 4 pm as we were told that he would arrive at 5:15," the official told this newspaper on condition of anonymity.
As far as the police were concerned, however, the paid crowd had its advantages. "Mobs that randomly gather to see celebrities can be extremely unruly and tough to control. A hired crowd is better. It behaves itself and listens to us," said a security officer outside the terminal.
2011-12-04, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Scientology doesn't really have a Sunday service. They like to say that they do, because they crave mainstream acceptance. But unless Xenu rested after six days and L. Ron Hubbard just forgot to mention it, there's no reason for Scientologists to treat Sunday any differently than every other day of coursework, detoxes, fundraising, and generally clearing the planet.
After Fairman was ousted, the actor claims he received a letter from the family chiropractor -- an active Scientologist -- informing him she would no longer treat the Fairman family. Fairman also claims she refused to hand over a copy of the family's medical records.
2011-12-03, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
The scene here in the underground bunker is like the quiet after a major storm. A hurricane blew up out of the Caribbean this week and hit us square on. The place is a mess. The cats are skittish. But the excitement has finally died down a bit, the lights are low, the empty bottles have been cleared out, and we're trying to regain some composure here as we reflect on what happened...
We seem to say it every Saturday, but this time we really mean it: what a week, Scientology watchers!
2011-12-01, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Over the last three days, her sister Valeska has become famous on three continents. Sunday night, Australia's ABC network, on its Lateline program, aired a story by Steve Cannane, who explained that in 1996, Valeska, then only 18, was taken -- against her will, she says -- to serve as a Sea Org staffer aboard the Freewinds, and would remain there, a virtual prisoner, for 12 years. We followed up Cannane's story with our own lengthy interview of Valeska, which filled in more about her family history, her time on the Freewinds, and how she finally managed to get off the ship and start a family with former Australian rugby star Chris Guider.
But Valeska urged me to talk to Melissa, telling me that her story alone was not a complete picture.
Ruth Eckerd leaders said invitees to the benefit, which was to raise money for renovation of the historic Capitol Theatre downtown, responded with a "significant number of negative comments" when they saw that Scientology was involved. On Thursday, a day after announcing the event, Ruth Eckerd leaders abruptly called it off.
2011-12-01, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Monday morning at 5 am, I heard from our good friend Steve Cannane, a journalist at Australia's ABC network, that he was breaking a big story -- that for 12 years, Valeska Paris had been held against her will on the Scientology cruise ship, Freewinds.
Valeska Paris, an Australian resident, said she was forced onto the ship by the Church's leader, David Miscavige, when she was 17 after her mother tried to dissociate her from the organisation.
Ms Paris, who was born in Switzerland, moved to the UK at age six, where she was placed in the church's youth wing, the cadet org. At 14, she joined the church's elite Sea Organisation and signed a contract which bound her for a billion years.
2011-11-30, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
And then, recently, in the mail, one of our readers sent us some pure gold.
It is a five-page document, and it may be the most precious, hopeful, earnest, presumptious, and ultimately dictatorial artifact I have seen come out of the church in some time.
It is a checksheet, and it is designed to instruct a new celebrity recruit in the arcane ways of L. Ron Hubbard, and how to take Hubbard's greatness to the outside world by learning how to speak to the press about such monumental things.
2011-11-30, Steve Cannane, ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Valeska Paris says the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige sent her to the ship when she was 18, to prevent her mother taking her away from Scientology.
Ms Paris says she ended up being on the ship for over a decade, and was unable to leave The Freewinds for the first six years without an escort.
She has also described the church's leader David Miscavige as a psychopath and says he should be put on trial.
For most people, an extended stay aboard a luxury cruise liner sounds like a dream vacation.
But Valeska Paris says she was held against her will aboard the Scientology cruise ship "Freewinds" for more than a decade. During her stay on the vessel, she alleges, she was forced into hard labor and never allowed to leave the ship without an escort.
2011-11-29, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Last night, we had a lengthy conversation over Skype with Valeska Paris, and learned much more about her upbringing in Scientology, her time on the ship, and in particular, what it was like when church leader David Miscavige brought aboard his best pal, Tom Cruise, for the actor's big birthday celebration in 2004.
We also talked about how she decided to speak out even though she had previously signed confidentiality agreements with the notoriously litigious church.
"They're cowards. They always threaten, but they never follow it up," she says.
2011-11-28, Steve Cannane, Lateline, ABC News (Australia)
Her mother had denounced Scientology on French TV after her ex-husband, Albert Jaquier, had committed suicide. A self-made millionaire, his last days were spent in poverty. In a diary he kept, he blamed the Church of Scientology for fleecing him of his fortune.
Valeska Paris says the Church was so worried her mother would take her away that Scientology's leader David Miscavige intervened, ordering she be taken to the Church's cruise ship, The Freewinds.
2011-11-26, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We're still recovering here in the underground bunker from this week's big feast. The leftover turkey is still holding out as we look back on the past week of Scientology watching here at Runnin' Scared.
2011-11-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
In gratitude to our many loyal Scientology watchers who have made this year so special, here at the Voice we are excited to present a Thanksgiving tribute to Scientology's first and worst nightmare, the one, the only, Paulette Cooper.
40 years ago, Paulette published her stunning expose of the church, The Scandal of Scientology, and we also didn't want that anniversary to go unmarked. So over the last several weeks, I've been in touch with Paulette, talking to her about her book, about its famous aftermath, and learning about someone who has been encouraging me over my entire career. Here then is the Paulette that I've gotten to know.
The St. Petersburg Times has a big feature this weekend on the shameless "money machine" that is Scientology. Example number one: A Seattle couple who gave seven figures to the church only to be later be written up for "insufficient generosity."
The Times story explains through multiple accounts from former church members how Scientology fundraisers are relentless -- to an almost sociopathic level -- in their demands for money from parishioners.
"Contrary to the St. Petersburg Times' mischaracterizations, parishioners donate to the church because they enthusiastically support their chosen faith," spokeswoman Karin Pouw said.
"They continue to do so because those donations fund programs that parishioners are proud to support: The opening of new Ideal Scientology Churches throughout the world, and the implementation of global humanitarian initiatives and social betterment programs."
Those parishioners, in the thousands, far outweigh the "handful of disaffected apostates" who spoke to the Times, the church said.
Dozens of former Scientology parishioners told the St. Petersburg Times that they donated five- and six-figure sums to Scientology churches but were never given a financial report. They said the same held true for the IAS. Former church staffers said they didn't see reports either.
Scientology insists that its churches and the IAS give members "considerable details" about how donations are spent. Spokeswoman Karin Pouw said this information is "broadly communicated through the church's own publications, including Impact magazine and International Scientology News."
A review of Scientology magazines found large amounts of positive information about the church and its affiliates, but no financial reporting.
Always mysterious since coming to Clearwater under a fake name in 1975, the church became all the more inscrutable as its big building just sat there, finished on the outside, raw inside.
But unknown to those wondering about the delay was the whirl of activity just across the street.
In an office off the mezzanine in the church's Fort Harrison Hotel, a savvy team of fundraisers was raking in millions.
The Super Power project has been a bonanza for the Church of Scientology. Far from a financial burden, it has been a money magnet, a powerful come-on for L. Ron Hubbard's master vision.
Lynne Hoverson and Bert Schippers quickly pitched in with a $12,000 donation when Seattle Scientologists started raising money for a new church in 2000. They later boosted their gift to $160,000.
On a late-autumn evening in 2005, a trio of church fundraisers arrived at the couple's home. They wanted more cash for the $13 million project.
Ninety thousand dollars.
2011-11-19, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
There's a lot to absorb in this new installment in the series, which focuses on the IAS's hard-sell tactics, as well as the "Ideal Org" building boom.
And here's another unsavory detail: If Scientology has always been money-mad, the pressures of the last decade have been off the charts as church leader David Miscavige decided to use the 9/11 attacks as a new call to action.
2011-11-19, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
A wail was heard across the land tonight.
Just as we were leaving the office for the evening, we were notified that thousands of people who recently signed a White House petition about Scientology had received e-mail notices that the Obama administration would not, in fact, respond to the petition.
The petition, started by attorney Graham Berry, did meet its minimum required number of signatures. But you can see here why the White House says it can't respond:
2011-11-14, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
The previous day, the SP Times duo had introduced us to Hy Levy, a fomerly successful "registrar" who brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars to Scientology each and every week by convincing church members to max out their credit cards, pull from their 401Ks, and draw from equity on their houses.
Today, we meet some of those church members who gave and gave and gave, particularly after Scientology leader David Miscavige put out new versions of L. Ron Hubbard's books in 2007.
Culkin trusted his new friends at Scientology's Flag Land Base in Clearwater, so he gave in and told them.
The six-figure sum got the attention of Flag's "registrars," the religious workers who collect payments for church services and solicit donations for Scientology causes. No matter how much he gave, Culkin said they pestered him almost every day to give more. He ended up spending $330,000 on church services and donations during the year he spent in Scientology.
Large groups of registrars for the IAS repeatedly approached him, pressing him to give. Another registrar hounded him to spend thousands on counseling. One day, two church staffers from different departments tugged at his arms in a hallway, competing for a donation.
With the hotel as its linchpin, Flag has grown into a patchwork of 67 parcels, mostly downtown, serving as a worldwide center for Scientology counseling. Flag's workforce consists of 1,200 members of the church's religious order, the Sea Organization.
The church's Clearwater land holdings are valued by the county at $89 million, of which $59 million is tax exempt. Facilities not used for religious purposes are taxed.
Hy Levy lived in terror of what would happen if he didn't make his number, a weekly sales target of $200,000. The money was due every Thursday by 2 p.m.
Often when he failed, his bosses exiled him to the kitchen to scrub pots. Sometimes they made him eat only beans and rice for a week. They publicly humiliated him, calling him a loser, a saboteur. They got in his face, screaming, swearing. You soulless bastard!
He said they used profanity a lot where he worked: the Church of Scientology.
2011-11-06, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
So we're doing something about it. We're launching a Sunday morning Scientology Open Thread, looking forward to your thoughtful, funny, acerbic, or edgy contributions for whatever it is you'd like to talk about. And, to get the juices flowing, we're going to start things off with some fun images that Scientologists send out to inspire each other. (Um, in most cases, inspire each other to fork over money, that is.)
A Lawton man is fighting to stop a drug addiction education program from making a presentation to students at three area schools over the next three days.
The program is called "Narconon" and Colin Henderson says it is not what it appears. He is not alone in his concern. A school in Purcell recently refused to allow a Narconon presentation, and states like California, Massachusetts, and Hawaii have also banned it from their public schools.
2011-11-02, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Now, she's apparently changed her mind. In her interview with Seymour, she explains that as Miscavige's cook, it was her job to lavish on the church leader gourmet meals every few hours, and especially when Miscavige's good friend Tom Cruise showed up.
But when Cruise got food poisoning from a bad shrimp, Mitchell says she was unfairly blamed, and found herself cut off not only from her job, but also from her friends and family.
A new temple in Basel would form part of the sect's worldwide growth plans. The Church of Scientology recently announced at a fund-raising event in the United States that it planned to build 70 new churches, including the one in Basel.
But one expert on religious sects, Georg Otto Schmid, dismissed the move as a marketing ploy aimed at regaining some of the members lost in recent year. Even though the organisation claims to have 1,200 members in the region of Basel alone, Schmid instead believes the figure to be “around 200”.
2011-10-28, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
"They handed me a copy of Dianetics when I first started doing work for them, and I just threw it in the trash. It didn't catch my attention," he says. "As long as they paid me in a timely fashion, I wasn't going to judge. I'm a fucking mercenary.
"I give the Church of Scientology props. It's funny, I had a potential client call me who wanted some background done on certain people. You could call these people a borderline religious organization, a borderline cult. I told them they could take an example from Scientology, because they seem to do it right when it comes to gathering data."
I asked him if he could characterize the kind of work the church asked him to do. "Most of the cases I worked on were doing background information on ex-members who were saying things about them that weren't pleasant," he answered.
Lincoln County has a drug rehabilitation center at the Rainbow Canyon Retreat, also known as Narconon, a few miles south of Caliente.
County Commissioner Paul Donohue introduced Gerry Marshall, Narconon fresh start field control supervisor from the Los Angeles office, at the County Commission meeting Oct. 17. Marshall explained the vision and purpose of their program, and the work at the retreat center here, which has been in service since 2004.
Donohue said he along with Commissioners Mathews and Rowe, and their wives, were recently invited to dinner at the retreat center for a tour of the facility and to watch a graduation and awards ceremony.
No less than 40 minutes after today's newspaper went to print, the Church of Scientology's public relations department got in touch. They wished to respond to the request I had lodged earlier - seeking comment on reports that its employees had attempted to dig up dirt on the South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker (pictured).
In the interests of journalistic fairness, their emailed statement is printed in full below.
Former member of the Church of Scientology, Mark Rathbun, posted the evidence of the investigation on his own website.
The document shows how agents tried to find direct links to some the duo's closest allies including John Stamos, a friend of Stone's.
'To find a direct line into Stone and Parker, some of their friends have been identified.
The report offered an insight into the operation: 'The special collections (covert information gathering such as trash collection, purchased phone records, hacked airline reservations, purchased bank records) will be debugged in order to get some viable strings that can be pulled.
However, the pursuit ultimately proved to be futile and the memo concluded: 'It is clear that this investigation is not going anywhere and DCOE (D/Commanding Officer External OSA) is getting it debugged.'
2011-10-23, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
"These connections are being PRC'd," reads the document, and Rathbun explains that the acronym stands for "public records check." Scientology's standard procedure would be to put its private eyes on a complete check of these people and their property, legal, and other public records. If they owed taxes, or had been in messy divorces, or had been arrested, Scientology would soon know about it.
"There are some strings that will be pulled on the PRC on Stone," the document reads, suggesting that investigators had already found something about Matt Stone in public records that would make him vulnerable.
The grand opening of the Church of Scientology's brand new The Super Power Building is expected very soon. The 12-storey building, which took more than 13 years to build, and cost about $90 million, is located in Clearwater, Florida.
The Sun reports an elaborate arrangement of security and secrecy surrounding the imposing building with nearly 900 rooms. The windows are blacked out, cameras monitors are installed at entrances with security guards on duty 24 hours.
When we contacted DHS to confirm the engagement, and inquire as to why it would be dispatching a federal employee to address an event sponsored by an organization that's the current target of an FBI human trafficking investigation, a spokesman told us in a statement that Shora would not, in fact, be attending. He also seemed to suggest that the invitation was misleading, claiming that it had been extended not by the Church of Scientology but by a group called Washington Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster:
2011-10-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We just can't seem to get enough of Grant Cardone, the wealthy Scientologist who starred in his own National Geographic Channel reality show, donated millions of dollars to Scientology's war chest, and did Scientology's dirty work to slime fellow church member Milton Katselas, a well known Hollywood acting coach.
Now, he has timely advice for all you crusties hanging around down at Wall Street: quit yer bitchin' and stop hassling the 1 percent!
2011-10-17, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We also have a rich, robust free-for-all going on in our comments section between Scientology church members, Scientology critics, and independent Scientologists. I even get in there myself and spar with folks from time to time. It keeps me on my toes!
However, despite the presence of that forum, some church members still prefer to e-mail me directly. Knowing that some of our readers would like to see how these folks react to our coverage, I thought I'd share with you a few of their letters!
2011-10-13, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We've seen Lynch work over the years, and it is something to behold. Apparently, he actually had a real career at a legitimate newspaper (and if you worked with Jim back in the day, how about giving me a call to fill me in with the details?), but these days, he's the hired gun for Scientology and its disinformation organ, Freedom.
In August, Freedom was in the news for its hilariously stupid parody of New Yorker magazine, which attempted to slime writer Lawrence Wright and Crash director Paul Haggis.
The church, which plans to turn its newly acquired property at 3845 and 3875 North 44th Street into its temple-like "Phoenix Ideal Org," is booting out his business and livelihood, FitLife, from its current location. He was the final holdout as of early October; the other tenants already had been kicked out by then.
The fitness trainer and former professional athlete, a solidly built 40-year-old, isn't used to getting muscled, and his voice rises in anger as he talks about the situation.
"They're hurting people," Ruth insists. "They have zero compassion or concern about what's going on. It's brutal."
2011-10-12, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
There are countless examples of "Fair Game," Scientology's notorious policy of retaliation against perceived enemies, and I've written about many of them over the years. But what's happening in Florida right now with a man named Robert Almblad appears to be some of the worst, most vicious, and most reprehensible activity by the church since the 1970s, when it actually tried to get people killed and imprisoned.
And this does affect you. Or anyone you know in a hospital who wants to go home without a life-threatening infection.
The church has accused an author who tried to lift the lid on a US$42,000-a-year ($55,000) boarding school it runs in rural Oregon of making false claims about the institution and its teaching methods.
Benjamin Carlson's two-part series on the 250-student Delphian School, which was founded in the 1970s, made headlines last week when it described the school's curriculum designed around "Study Technology", a controversial teaching method designed by Hubbard in the 1960s.
2011-10-08, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
The leak of e-mails at the Birmingham org included stunning messages pulled out by readers at Anonymous. There was the fellow who is told to stop spending so much time caring for his dying wife and get in for some expensive auditing, for example. Readers generally were horrified by what they read. We liked this summation by Ron:
As the Scientology organism continues to starve for cash nourishment, its great hunger drives it to eat its own edges, starting with individual Scientologists.
Brad Sherman is engaged in a political battle to the death with fellow Congressman Howard Berman. But over the last month, he's also been waging an epic struggle against some anonymous guy on Wikipedia.
On Sept. 15, Mr. Anonymous changed Sherman's religion from Jewish to Scientologist. The new version also claimed that Sherman and his wife had left Valley Beth Shalom, their synagogue in Encino.
Moscow police have been searching the Church of Scientology on Taganskaya Street since Thursday morning, a law enforcement source has told Interfax.
The search could be part of a criminal investigation by the Moscow region's Investigative Committee into the distribution of scientology literature of the extremist nature, the source said.
Janet Reitman: The book grew out of a very long magazine story that I wrote for Rolling Stone, also called "Inside Scientology," which took about nine months to produce, largely because the learning curve was so steep. Scientology has its own language, its own codes, its own justice system, its own worldview - and none of these things had ever been well explained in any sort of mainstream, accessible way. That shocked me a little bit, I have to say, and it also offered a challenge, which was to write that sort of book, a really objective, thoroughly researched and documented history and narrative exploration of this subject that so many people have heard of, yet know almost nothing about.
The Church of Scientology filed an application to convert a 32,053 square foot office building into an estimated 44,000 square foot church, the city reported. The City Council approved the use of the property for a church, but limited the size of the building to the existing space citing a lack of sufficient parking. The Church of Scientology sued the city for religious discrimination in federal court in January.
2011-10-04, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Another time, he encountered the word "enturbulation" in a Hubbard book. "I tried to look it up and realized it was something Hubbard invented," he says. (Hubbard used it to mean agitation or disruption.) Boyd asked a supervisor about it and says he was told, "Hubbard was highly educated, and used words that weren't on this planet."
Boyd says he found that pretty ridiculous.
But for years, the 'Scientology school', the Delphian, in Sheridan, Oregon has largely remained a mystery.
Now former students are speaking out about the controversial $42,000-a-year school where the unconventional curriculum includes learning through clay modelling and students are encouraged to report each other for breaches of the school's extensive list of rules.
A new promotional video for a private boarding school in rural Oregon called the "Delphian School" popped up online recently. The Daily - a newspaper for the iPad only - calls it a "real-world Hogwarts."
The 800-acre "castle" on a hill costs $42,000 a year.
The school's promotional video goes on to talk about student life and extracurricular activities.
But The Daily points out the ad forgets to mention one thing. Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard came up with the teaching methodology and ethics code, and some former students say their experience was bizarre.
"What's this?" I said, reading a sign. "Kirstie Alley's Organic Liasion? It's as empty as a Scientology place these days." It was the Scientology celebrity's new weight loss program.
A passerby stopped and smiled. "It's always empty," she said. "I've never seen a customer in there. They filled it up at the opening, but that's it. And they ticked a lot of people off, too, shutting off the street like they did."
2011-09-28, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We can already hear the howls from the growing independent Scientology movement at our choice for the top person in this list, the church's founder, 1930s pulp fiction writer, occult dabbler, bigamist, noted singer, author of Dianetics, founder of Scientology -- the commodore himself, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard.
How, we've been asked, could a man who's been dead for 25 years be crippling the movement he left behind, as in the present tense? Wasn't it Hubbard's prolific output, his charisma, and his shrewd instinct that turned a brief self-help fad in the summer of 1950 into a decades-strong globe-spanning religious organization? And even if the church has fallen on hard times in recent years, isn't the new independence movement rescuing Hubbard from it, getting back to his first principles, which have nothing to do with the corruption of official Scientology under its current leader, David Miscavige?
Allow me to call bullshit.
2011-09-28, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
One of Miscavige's more infamous Scientology-crippling blunders was his unwelcome intervention into the life of Lisa McPherson, which ultimately led to her death. As detailed in Janet Reitman's excellent book, Inside Scientology, corroborated accounts told of Miscavige arriving in Clearwater, Florida and voicing his frustration at the members moving "up the bridge" too slowly. He then took a personal interest in Lisa, supervising her auditing sessions and declaring her "Clear" despite the misgivings of, well, actual auditors. And Miscavige continued to be advised, from afar, of Lisa's supposed "care," all the way to her death. Although Miscavige's direct involvement would not fully emerge for years, his direct role in Scientology's single worst public relations disaster ranks high as a cause for Scientology's deterioration.
A FORMER rugby league star has attacked the head of the church of Scientology, David Miscavige, describing him as a "violent man" who sent him to a re-education camp for 2 1/2-years where he was paid as little as $2 a week and stripped of his passport.
Chris Guider was a former hooker for the St George rugby league team, but left the sport at 24 after being encouraged to devote more time to the church.
2011-09-22, Steve Cannane, Lateline, ABC News (Australia)
But Chris Guider thinks David Miscavige is not the kind of person who should be the head of a religious movement.
CHRIS GUIDER: He's a violent individual. He is. And there are accounts of him being physical with people. I've seen him physically beat one staff member, Mark Fisher, who was formerly an executive in RTC and worked very closely with Miscavige for a lot of years. And I witnessed him beating him.
2011-09-19, Mark Collette, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Moore filed a report with the San Patricio County Sheriff's Office. Chief Deputy Oscar Rivera said his deputy didn't arrest Rathbun immediately because the deputy didn't witness the altercation. Moore then took his complaint to Judge Yolanda Guerrero, the justice of the peace in Sinton, on Sept. 8, six days after the incident.
Rathbun was in jail for about four hours Friday before Guerrero came to arraign him and set bail at $1,000, Rathbun said.
Guerrero said Monday she had not been familiar with Rathbun's background or the activities of the Squirrel Busters in Ingleside on the Bay.
The Church of Scientology has violated Australian law by making its employees work up to 72 hours without a break for as little as $10 a week, the Fair Work Ombudsman stated Friday after an 18-month probe.
The ruling came despite the fact that the Scientologists attempted to label some workers as "volunteers" rather than "employees."
THE industrial umpire has told the Church of Scientology to hire an external expert to review its work practices after an 18-month probe into whether church workers were paid properly.
The Fair Work Ombudsman investigation was sparked by an ABC Four Corners program in March 2010, which raised allegations about the mistreatment and exploitation of some of the church's most loyal members.
2011-09-15, Steve Cannane, Lateline, ABC News (Australia)
STEVEN LEWIS, SLATER AND GORDON: They came to us with some fairly horrendous stories, but in addition they gave us a lot of evidence to say that they had not been paid proper wages. We have undertaken an investigation into that and we've come to the conclusion that indeed they were employees and entitled to be paid wages, back wages and other entitlements including superannuation under the Fair Work Act.
Last night Lateline revealed the allegations made by former members of the church could breach provisions of the criminal code dealing with slavery.
Those allegations were contained in a draft report of the Fair Work Ombudsman's inquiry into the Church of Scientology which had been obtained by Lateline. The draft also says the Ombudsman is planning to refer these claims to the relevant authorities.
Following allegations of Scientology employees working excessively long hours for little pay last year, the Fair Work Ombudsman launched an investigation into the organisation's practices.
According to the draft report from the ombudsman, obtained by the ABC's Lateline program, some work practices may have been in breach of criminal laws.
A school identified with the Scientology movement that was booted out of Holon last year is moving to a new location - Yehud, says anti-missionary organization Yad L'achim - to the consternation of religious and secular Jews in the town. A fracas broke out last week during a special meeting of the Yehud City Council on whether or not to allow the school to settle in town, with dozens of residents very loudly making their objections clear, Yad L'achim said.
Even worse, say opponents, the Atid school, organized several years ago by parents from the Tel Aviv Scientology community to provide education to their children based on the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, has now been recognized by the Education Ministry. The school is now considered an "unofficial recognized school," meaning that it is eligible for government funding and can award diplomas.
A DRAFT report by the industrial umpire into the Church of Scientology says the group could have potentially breached laws dealing with slavery by underpaying its staff.
A final report by the Fair Work Ombudsman is due for release later this week, but the preliminary report has found some workers were paid as little as $10 a week by the church despite it earning more than $17 million in 2009.
It contains allegations of false imprisonment and forced labour.
"The allegations ... may potentially be a breach of the provisions of the Criminal Code Act 1995 dealing with slavery ... the Fair Work Ombudsman will refer the witnesses' allegations to the relevant authority for further investigation," ABC Television quoted the draft report as saying.
2011-09-10, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We were feeling pretty whiplashed this week here at the underground bunker where we keep an eye on all things Scientology related -- on the one hand, our big countdown was really heating up, but we also needed to keep an eye on the big news breaking out in Germany, where Marty Rathbun and Ursula Caberta were giving David Miscavige reason to have the night sweats.
Anonymous has been toasting "ethicstrouble," a purported Scientologist who wrote on a local Anonymous message board that the group's protests convinced him or her that "something is really wrong" with the church, and that he or she now wants to leave. Meanwhile, Jeff Quiros, the president of the San Francisco church, said in our story yesterday he believes Anonymous itself is behind the defector.
Wait, it gets better. Quiros' theory continues: Anonymous was shamed by a graph (in the picture above) that a Scientologist showed the protesters last week indicating the number of visitors coming in off the street was skyrocketing. So, he says, Anonymous had to fight back by creating an apostate.
2011-09-09, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
I asked Reitman in an interview why one woman's death in 1995 is still such a big part of the Scientology story.
"Because nothing changes in Scientology," she answered. "The fundamental problem is that this is a fundamentalist religion. [David] Miscavige is a fundamentalist leader... Their mindset is that anything L. Ron Hubbard said or wrote is 'Source,' it's doctrine. This is literal. And as long as they have this literal interpretation of everything, [something like the McPherson incident] could happen again."
2011-09-07, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Nearly five years ago, Nick Xenophon, the independent federal senator from the state of South Australia, was discussing a story with Seven Network journalist Bryan Seymour when the topic turned to Scientology. Seymour says that Xenophon expressed some concern about the tax breaks given to Scientology, and said he was going to look into it further.
Boy, did he. In November, 2009, Xenophon stood up in Australia's federal Parliament at the capital, Canberra, and detailed the shocking stories of several Australian ex-Scientologists. He made a declaration that day in Parliament that is still ringing in the ears of Scientology watchers Down Under: "Scientology is not a religion. It is a criminal organization that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs." Two years later, Scientology in Australia is battered and bruised, and a government decision coming in the next couple of weeks could bankrupt the church there.
The Evening News revealed last weekend that the controversial group had applied for a street traders' licence for the Newkirkgate shopping centre, where they planned to carry out "stress tests" and discuss the organisation's beliefs with passers-by.
In the wake of the news, the Scientologists' Edinburgh base, Hubbard Academy of Personal Independence on South Bridge, received the threat, contained in a letter, on Tuesday.
2011-09-05, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Scientology leader David Miscavige's iron grip on the organization has led to an exodus among Scientology's upper ranks over the last decade, greatly diminishing the pool of executives to choose from.
The leading remaining Miscavige loyalist is undoubtedly on-again-off-again spokesman Tommy Davis, who is the son of Scientologist actress Anne Archer. Scientology mouthpieces never have it easy, as they're constantly being called upon to defend or deny indefensible policies like disconnection, or handling questions about galactic overlord Xenu, whether or not they've been exposed to the Xenu material by reaching the level of OT III. Scientology spokespersons have almost always conveyed an elitist, disdainful air -- precisely the opposite most organizations want their public faces to communicate. But Davis has taken the role of disastrous public spokesman to catastrophic new levels.
2011-09-02, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Scientology seems utterly incapable of understanding a journalist like Reitman, who weighs all kinds of evidence in order to come up with a rounded portrait of something as complex as Scientology. But then, historically, Scientology has had only the most contentious relationships with journalists -- some of whom have experienced stunning acts of retaliation by the church and its agents. We're listing some of them here, writers from the past and present who, like Janet, have labored to understand Hubbard and his creation, even as the church fights every attempt to learn even its most basic facts. In the end, Scientology has crippled itself as it treats every new journalist as an outright enemy.
The Scientologists are still mad about the huge Lawrence Wright Scientology takedown that the NYer ran last February. Over six months ago! That piece ran after an eight-hour marathon fact-checking meeting with Scientologists. But here they are, six months later, to get their revenge, with a magazine spoof—including an entire DVD criticizing Lawrence Wright's journalistic methods!
In "The Church of Scientology," Hugh B. Urban, a professor of religious studies at Ohio State University, provides a fascinating account of how a healing practice called Dianetics came to define itself - and become officially recognized - as a religion in the United States. Urban strains to strike a balance between what he calls "a hermeneutics of respect and a hermeneutics of suspicion," grounded in a firm belief in freedom of worship and an obligation to ask tough questions about alleged misbehavior by Scientologists, including espionage against government agencies, attacks on critics, abuse of members, and attempts to alter entries in Wikipedia.
2011-08-31, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Tory is truly one of a kind. But many other Scientologists who leave the organization choose not to fade into obscurity. We want to recognize those who've had the greatest impact. Some have spent years trying to educate the public about their experiences and warn governments about Scientology's abuses, and some ex-members pose a threat because of who they were in Scientology.
2011-08-30, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Six months ago, The New Yorker uncorked a delicious 24,000-word takedown of Scientology in the form of a profile of Paul Haggis, the Crash director who defected from the church in 2009.
Six months later, after a hell of a lot of effort and (clearly) a lot of money, Scientology is striking back with the most bizarre, utterly stupid, and breathlessly vacuous slime job imaginable.
But the art looks good.
2011-08-29, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Andreas Heldal-Lund was not the first person to provide information critical of Scientology on the Internet, and he was not the only one who fought attempts by the church to have his website taken down. But for many years, Heldal-Lund's "Operation Clambake" has been among Scientology's biggest Internet headaches around the world. A Norwegian computer engineer who became interested in a local Scientology court case in 1996, Heldal-Lund quickly came to symbolize the free-speech fight that was galvanizing Internet activism against Scientology and its heavy-handed methods. As his website grew to be an enormously comprehensive depository of information about the church, Scientology targeted it and Heldal-Lund with retaliation. In liberal Norway, however, they found it tough slogging.
2011-08-26, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Eventually, they escaped from that life, and Marc went on to start a lucrative business in Los Angeles (which he recently sold -- the couple now lives with their two children in Colorado). But what really puts Marc on this list is what he did once he got out of Scientology -- he didn't let well enough alone. Headley knew that he possessed crucial, damning information about Scientology: he'd worked directly with Tom Cruise as the actor's guinea pig while Cruise learned how to audit. Headley had also worked closely with Scientology leader David Miscavige and had witnessed the violence and chaos on the base. Headley began leaking his observations under the name "Blown for Good" on the Internet. What BFG had to say alarmed Scientology so much, we know now that the church expended enormous resources to confirm that it was Headley leaking that information.
When the building was finally finished in June, that $450,000 bill became due. But the church asked the city to reduce its fine by 90 percent, to reflect its "good faith" effort in bringing the building to code.
That request went to the city's resident-led Code Enforcement Board, which has a record of leniency and decimating fines. But board members voted unanimously to keep the fines mostly untouched, saying the church had long ignored the city's rules.
"This board's order was not taken seriously," member Sheila Cole said. "That really bothers me."
2011-08-25, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Will and Scarlett called me this morning to give me the details on their totally spontaneous wedding. The event actually took place on July 28 at the Chumash Casino near Santa Barbara, where Will has worked for the past three years.
He and Scarlett met through "mutual things," Will says, referring to an extended worldwide ex-Scientologist network. "We became Facebook friends, and talked over Skype over the course of a year, rather casually," he says. But then a little over a month before they were married, they began to date.
It took 40 years to build the Mormon Tabernacle, 83 to finish the National Cathedral.
So 12 years isn't that long to wrap up work on the spiritual center of the Church of Scientology, the church's attorney argued.
But unique as the building may be, with features including a black-domed running track for purging the body of toxins, that's not how the Clearwater code enforcement board saw it.
The board voted unanimously Wednesday to fine the church $413,000 for failing to get cracking on the building when ordered to, plus five years of late fees and interest.
Each member of an "obscure board of volunteers" representing the city of Clearwater, Florida, has earned a gold star and pat on the back, as they have ruled that the Church of Scientology must cough up $413,500 in fines which they could have easily written off.
2011-08-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Another reason why Hawkins is a key defector is that he had such a personal knowledge of the actual vital signs of the church's health. There may be no one with a more authoritative knowledge of Scientology's actual membership numbers.
"I have an advantage here because I used to work for Scientology's Central Marketing Unit, and had access to all of the actual lists and statistics," he wrote at his blog last year. And he explained how he came up with an overall number of worldwide members: "I know that event attendance internationally was somewhere in the region of 25,000 to 35,000. The International 'Bodies in the Shop' (people actually in the orgs that week for service) was 16,000 to 18,000. IAS was struggling to get 40,000 members. Based on this and a lot of other information I was privy to, I estimate the actual number of Scientologists at a maximum of 40,000. That's on the high side."
2011-08-22, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Scobee, like several other recent defectors, had worked closely with Scientology leader David Miscavige. And as a group, these former executives came forward to tell the world how bizarre and awful it was to work for a leader so irrational, impulsive, and violent. Since Scobee and others came forward in the landmark 2009 St. Pete Times series, "The Truth Rundown," a new picture of Miscavige and Scientology has emerged, one that is focused on the abuses of an organization rotting from its apex.
In her book about her experiences, "Abuse at the Top," Scobee describes her entire 27-year journey in Scientology, which began in 1978 when she was only 14 and went to work for the church. That first year, she writes, she was raped by her 35-year-old boss, but the incident was swept under the rug. Still at only 16, she joined the Sea Org and signed its billion-year contract.
2011-08-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We shot a few angles of yesterday's Anonymous protest outside the 46th Street Church of Scientology building. We have to hand it to these Anons for their creativity: the beach scene they created stopped quite a few tourists in their tracks -- and they were promptly handed leis that carried anti-Scientology messages.
The Scientologists, for their part, were also clever. Either by design or by accident a large delivery truck pulled in front of the building and shielded its entrance from the protest for about a half hour. And employees came and went without paying much attention to the shouting.
2011-08-17, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
And as you can see from that screenshot, the title that Parker and Stone put up throughout the Xenu segment -- "THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE" -- really shifts this episode from farce to political satire. This IS what high-level Scientologists are asked to accept, after several years of membership and several hundred thousand dollars in fees: that disembodied, indoctrinated alien souls are attached to us after they were brought here 75 million years ago by a galactic overlord named Xenu, and only Hubbard's techniques of "auditing" can remove them from you so that your superhuman potential can be unleashed.
There's something about putting the OT III story in a cartoon that makes it even more stark-raving mad than simple words can convey.
2011-08-15, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Moxon goes back so far, before he was an attorney he was caught up in the government's crackdown on Scientology's "Guardian Office," which carried out what is still the largest illegal infiltration of federal agencies in this country's history. That covert operation, dubbed "Operation Snow White" by the GO, was a massive undertaking, an attempt to quietly break into government offices to steal documents that were unflattering to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. In 1977, four years after it began, the operation resulted in FBI raids in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, and 11 church officials ultimately pleaded guilty or were convicted of obstructing justice and other charges. One of the officials was L. Ron Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue.
Hubbard himself, like Moxon, was named an "unindicted co-conspirator," and wasn't prosecuted.
2011-08-12, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
As we noted on Wednesday, Scientology has a history of pouncing on human disaster which even its own leaders, on leaked videotape, have admitted is a recruitment tool for the church.
But even we're somewhat taken aback to see what the UK Scientologists have put out in a message to the flock following the destruction there: now, they say, is the time to cash in!
"We MUST open all UK Ideal Orgs NOW," says an electronic flier my UK sources are calling a "leaked e-mail."
2011-08-06, Mark Collette, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
"He had like a control station, like a war room," Leahy said. "Laptops, GPS's, paperwork. He's on the phone saying I need to order 55 more Squirrel Busters hats. He was constantly on the phone to people in Los Angeles."
In the room, Leahy grew increasingly worried with what he saw. He wondered why he had been allowed into this inner circle. But he tried to stay calm and buddy up to the group. He asked Statter about the overall goal.
"Dave flat-out said our goal is to make Marty's life a living hell," Leahy said. "That's a quote. He never said 'stalk,' but he said make Marty's life a living hell with every means possible of impeding his everyday living, and make it so miserable for him and his neighbors that his neighbors will want him to move."
2011-08-05, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
But we think it's time Xenu got more credit for all that he's done. Think about it, for about 19 years, after L. Ron Hubbard dreamed the sucker up in a pill-popping and boozy haze while sailing the Atlantic and Mediterranean in the mid-1960s, until the Los Angeles Times finally made Xenu's story public during the Larry Wollersheim trial in 1986, only high-level Scientologists even knew that the alien leader existed.
UPDATE: Ah, the beauty of a blog -- instant updating! Maybe for many of us the L.A. Times was our first glimpse of our mighty galactic hero, but I've just been reminded that one of the giants of Scientology reporting, Richard Leiby, beat the Times by five years!
Yvonne Jentzsch was not so lucky. Hubbard sacked her as head of the Celebrity Centre she had founded, even though the organization literally put Scientology on the map with the Hollywood community. She'd gotten people like John Travolta involved, and John adored her. The problem was, Yvonne had lived for years on two to three hours sleep a night and had developed a brain tumor. Hubbard probably didn't want to foot the medical bills. He announced he was “promoting” her to create and run the “Public Relations Organization” which would promote Scientology all over the world. What he didn't announce was that he didn't fund her, and Yvonne was put in the embarrassing position of literally begging for donations to survive.
Dr. Joan Wood once enjoyed prominence and prestige as a medical sleuth like the heroes of the mystery books she read.
As the Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner for 18 years, she conducted more than 5,600 autopsies and testified in hundreds of murder trials.
But the case she will be remembered for most is the one she botched: the 1995 death of Lisa McPherson.
To help the school recover, Mickens and the other board members have turned to Hanan Islam, executive director of the World Literacy Crusade. The group promotes the use of study techniques developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the late founder of the Church of Scientology.
Islam is from Los Angeles, though she has been staying in Clearwater for about eight months, and is an owner of a local company called Art of Management Inc., described on a website as specializing in management services for speakers, artists and authors.
Islam said Mickens approached her earlier because the school needed help. She said she immediately saw what the problems were and gave Mickens a written report. She said he didn't follow her advice.
The real estate lawyer is being tried for allegedly hiring hitmen to kill his ex-wife, her boyfriend, and a Tel Aviv city official, as well as to blow up a mosque and the Scientologist church in Jaffa.
A physiotherapist in Shawinigan has been disciplined by his professional order for promoting Scientology to his clients. Raymond Soucy was fined three-thousand dollars for displaying Scientology pamphlets in his waiting room and selling the group's books to his patients.
The physiotherapists' code of conduct prohibits promotional activities which might prey on vulnerable people.
2011-07-28, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
"I was at the monthly protest since March 2008," AnonOrange told me this morning by telephone. "My approach is to dress up in something funny. I try to ridicule them. I make serious speeches at the Board of Supervisors, I write letters, I meet with reporters. But then I do silly stuff."
The reason? "Scientology can't fight funny. Because they aren't funny. They're the most unfunny group in the world."
Scientology didn't appreciate AnonOrange's sense of humor. it wanted to gather more information about him -- like where he lived. And that involved a pretty elaborate mission which included luring AnonOrange to a supposed magazine interview that didn't happen, and then following him for 11 hours until he finally went home late at night.
The Elliotts say Narconon charged them $34,000 for substandard treatment and Scientology propaganda.
"Plaintiffs were not informed that defendants are an off-shoot of the Church of Scientology and that the programs offered by defendants are used as a recruiting tool for the Church of Scientology," the complaint states. "In fact, plaintiffs were told that the program was non-denominational when, in fact, the program is used as both a recruiting tool as well as a funding source for the Church of Scientology.
2011-07-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
THR scribe Daniel Miller put together a terrific report about the various historic properties owned by Scientology. It was especially impressive that he was able to calculate how much money the church saves each year on the Hollywood buildings it owns because of Scientology's controversial tax-exempt status:
2011-07-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
It was one thing for those of us outside Scientology to laugh at their efforts. But how about a 15 minute video of Scientology's leader and his audience having a laugh at the fundraising efforts of their own fellow parishioners? Watch the above video and marvel.
The video appeared on Marty Rathbun's blog today under Mike Rinder's name, where the former high-level Scientology executive posted it as an example of the decline of the church. The narrator of the film, Scientology ultimate leader David Miscavige, appears to be giving the opposite impression -- that fundraising efforts in Europe to construct new "Ideal Orgs" are on fire.
In total, the church owns seven historic Hollywood properties worth about $300 million, part of a Hollywood real estate empire of 26 properties, according to real estate experts. It is a portfolio that began to take shape in the early 1970s under the direction of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and continues to grow. These days, a small group of high-level church staffers based here comprises the organization's real estate team and oversees the assets while planning a global expansion.
2011-07-19, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
The blogger does not identify himself, although he has posted several photographs and appears to be named "Tad." I wager that our astute readers (who include both present and former church members) will be able to put a full name to a face.
In his blog, titled "Studying Scientology," Tad has revealed some things about himself: he appears to be a second-generation Scientologist, and both he and his father work at the D.C. "org." Tad is a young father and earnestly cheers on announcements by Scientology leader David Miscavige about new church buildings opening around the world.
2011-07-15, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
You'll remember that former church executive Marty Rathbun complained to local government in his Corpus Christi-area town of Ingleside on the Bay, Texas, that he was being surveilled and harassed by a goon squad sent to watch him by Scientology, which considers him an arch-nemesis.
The town rallied to Rathbun's defense, and the goons with their cameras fended off criticism by saying they were renting property nearby and even filming him from a paddle boat because they were making a "documentary." Yeah, a "documentary" in the style of an SNL music spoof, complete with high-level Scientologists dancing on boats. (Seriously. Click the video already.)
But Ken Dandar sued the church again in 2009, leading to an uncomfortable situation: A state court judge told Dandar he had to withdraw as counsel in the federal wrongful death case against the church and threatened to hit him with hefty monetary penalties if he didn't. Meanwhile, the federal judge in the case said he couldn't withdraw, as detailed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post.
Now a federal appeals court has gotten Dandar out of the jam, holding that U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday lacked the power to countermand the order by Pinellas Circuit Judge Robert Beach that Dandar must step down, the St. Petersburg Times reported.
On Saturday, the Village Voice published a blog interview with Placido Domingo Jr. in which he accused the church of taking retaliatory measures against him for his decision to leave the organization after 20 years. The interview -- in which Domingo Jr. called Scientology's actions "scary and pathetic" -- has been picked up by gossip blogs, including Radar, as well as Britain's Daily Mail.
In the interview, Domingo Jr. said he was finished with the church and angry at the way it had tried to make him "disconnect" from his ex-wife, Samantha Domingo. He added that the church had encouraged its members to un-friend him on Facebook, and that leaders had escalated attacks on him by posting online details of his personal life that he only revealed during confidential auditing sessions.
2011-07-10, Michael Bachelard, Sydney Morning Herald
THE Church of Scientology is threatening to sue a volunteer organisation for publishing a brochure it claims labels the religion a ''cult''.
But the Cult Information and Family Support (CIFS) group, which helps victims of cults and their families, refuses to bow to the demands of the Scientologists, saying they will continue their ''humanitarian support work''.
2011-07-09, Mark Collette, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Lynch authored a 2009 article in Freedom Magazine titled "An Outsider's View of Scientology in Clearwater." Clearwater is home to the Flag, a religious retreat the church likens to Mecca.
Lynch's article criticized the St. Petersburg Times investigation for a lack of fairness and objectivity, and pointed out how Scientologists have helped the community of Clearwater economically and socially.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals this week reversed a decision by federal Judge Steven Merryday, who in September refused to release Dandar from his role in a wrongful death case against the Church of Scientology.
He made that ruling despite the order of another judge in a Pinellas Circuit case stating that Dandar had to go.
Attorney Kennan Dandar wants to represent a woman suing the Church of Scientology over the suicide of her son. The woman wants Dandar to represent her.
So what's the problem? Nothing, a Florida federal court ruled last year, issuing an injunction barring a state court from kicking Dandar off the case. But on Thursday, a federal appeals court found that -- despite worries about limiting the mother's right to choose counsel -- the federal court could not force the state court to let Dandar continue on the case.
Freedom Magazine is looking for experienced investigative reporters for short and long-range freelance assignments. Freedom, published by the Church of Scientology since 1968, covers human rights and social betterment issues and does investigative reporting in the public interest. Current assignments are based in Los Angeles, New York and Southeastern Texas.
2011-07-05, Antoine Oman, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
"In 1967, Scientology was a natural to go to from the drug culture. The New York org, it was a cool thing," he says. "There was something interesting about it. Here I was, all freaked out on acid, and here were all these people who seemed so focused. I told them I wanted to go to India. They said I needed auditing."
According to a report in the SonntagsZeitung newspaper, theologist Georg Otto Schmid, an expert on sects, said that support for Scientology is “shrinking.”
“I would imagine that the sect will no longer exist in Switzerland in a few years,” he was quoted as saying by the paper. According to Schmid, the organisation currently has 1,000 active members, a steady decline compared to the 3,000 registered in 1990.
2011-07-03, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Collette's piece is very well done, but what we found most amusing was Scientology's constant refrain that they were renting property near Rathbun's house, filming him from a paddle boat in a canal, and getting in his face on his porch with cameras strapped to their foreheads because -- get this -- they're making a "documentary."
Well, we're certainly the first to agree that Rathbun is worthy of attention. But how much b-roll footage of the man puttering around his bayside home or munching in local eateries do you really need?
2011-07-03, Harper Barnes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
In "Inside Scientology," her richly narrative history of the organization, Reitman writes that Scientology "over the past fifty years has been the subject of more than a dozen wide-scale government investigations around the world, and thousands of lawsuits."
2011-06-28, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Cardone, of course, doesn't touch the controversy that we've been delving into here at Runnin' Scared over the past week: that Cardone, as a wealthy and high-level Scientologist, did dirty work for the church by sliming a well-known and respected acting coach, Milton Katselas, with e-mails intended to ruin the 73-year-old man's reputation.
2011-06-27, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
At his most powerful, Rathbun says he answered only to Scientology's ultimate leader, David Miscavige.
Rathbun was an enforcer, a fixer, someone Miscavige could turn to when the church was in trouble. For that reason, many church critics refuse to forgive him for his acts, even seven years after leaving the church and becoming one of Miscavige's chief tormentors.
2011-06-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
What the show didn't say was that Cardone is a wealthy and high-level Scientologist with cozy ties to Scientology leader David Miscavige. In 2007, Cardone sent an e-mail to fellow Scientologists attacking Milton Katselas, a well known and admired acting coach who had, in the view of the church, not kept up his duties as a compliant Scientologist.
Now we have more detail about that, with an additional letter that Cardone sent directly to Katselas, the acting teacher's reply to Scientology, and also Cardone's public responses since we outed him as someone willing to do Scientology's dirty work.
2011-06-23, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
In the document, dated January 22, 2010, an OSA executive writes that some new facilities are opening up in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and she wants to make sure that certain people in the Western U.S. don't show up to the festivities.
What then follows is a long list of Scientologists who are apparently out of favor, as well as another long list of ex-Scientologists, journalists, and church critics.
In other words, it's a handy Scientology Enemies List!
2011-06-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Rathbun says Miscavige wanted Katselas punished for not being more active, even though, over the years, he had been so effective at bringing in some of Scientology's greatest celebrity prizes.
That task, Rathbun says, fell to an eager, gung-ho Scientologist that Miscavige could count on. Namely, Grant Cardone.
Ooh, look, another propaganda video from Hollywood's favorite cult, the Church of Scientology. This one appears to have been filmed in the early '90s, and features a fascinating shot of Church leader David Miscavige singing a Scientology hymn with his cronies.
THE Church of Scientology, famous for celebrity followers such as Tom Cruise, is on a membership drive in Perth.
The church has been distributing a 200-question "personality test" in letterboxes.
Householders are being asked to include their name, address, email, phone numbers, occupation, age and sex on the form.
2011-06-17, Paul Bibby Courts, Sydney Morning Herald
IT was a rare and at times dramatic public appearance by one of the most senior members of a global religious organisation that shrouds itself in secrecy.
Surrounded by supporters, senior Scientologist Janice Meyer arrived at the Downing Centre Local Court yesterday, accused of pressuring an 11-year-old girl to lie about sex abuse within the church.
A senior member of the Church of Scientology accused of coaching a child to lie about sex abuse has had her bail relaxed so she can travel to California.
Janice Meyer, 57, was surrounded by supporters on Thursday as she made her first court appearance in Sydney's Downing Centre Local court.
2011-06-16, Margaret Scheikowski, AAP, Sydney Morning Herald
A senior member of the Church of Scientology accused of coaching a child to lie about sex abuse has had her bail relaxed so she can travel to California.
Janice Meyer, 57, was surrounded by supporters on Thursday as she made her first court appearance in Sydney's Downing Centre Local court.
She is charged with doing an act intending to pervert the course of justice in 1985 in Sydney.
If you need people to be convinced of your cause, it helps to have a charismatic representative.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case, it's a fine line between charisma and Captain of the HMAS Whack-A-Doodle.
Take Scientology, for example. Here's a religion that has extra-terrestrial beings, silent childbirth and a relatively casual attitude towards mental illness as part of its basic manifesto.
For much of the last decade, the entire 200 block of Fort Harrison Avenue has been an eyesore -- a gigantic shell of a building surrounded by a chain-link fence. The church began construction on the "Super Power" building in 1998 but only obtained its certificate of occupancy on June 6 after numerous construction fits and stops. Multiple times in between, city leaders sought to urge the church along only to be rebuffed. Finally in 2006, the city began assessing fines of $250 a day.
2011-06-14, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
He would arrive flanked by his wife and Lou Stuckenbrock, a retinue of aides, and, often, his beagles. He had five dogs, two of which, Jelly and Safi, wore tiny blue sweaters with commander's bars. Miscavige was known to make his staffers salute the dogs, who held ranks higher than those of many people on the base.
Utah's attorney general and a federal agent who busted drug labs in Utah County will be among the guests Saturday at a Las Vegas fundraiser with actor John Travolta.
Travolta is helping generate money for what's called the Heroes Health Fund, a nationwide program which provides treatment to soldiers and emergency responders who believe they were sickened by exposure to chemicals. The treatment — consisting largely of exercise, time in a sauna and a diet of antioxidants — has its roots in the Church of Scientology, of which Travolta is a well-known member.
In 2006, the city of Clearwater got fed up and started levying a $250 daily fine. After the building finally passed all its inspections Monday, the meter stopped at an eye-popping $450,000, easily one of the biggest fines in the city's history.
But before paying up, church representatives will likely talk to a group few Clearwater residents ever see: the city's Code Enforcement Board, which has the power to cut the church's fine.
Kirstie Alley needs to dance her way on over to a checkbook -- she owes more than $41,000 to Pinellas County.
Records show the 'Cheers' star hasn't paid last year's property tax bill on her $1.73-million mansion in Clearwater. Now there are late fees, interest, and penalties.
Actress Kirstie Alley is facing the loss of her Florida home if she fails to settle a big bill for outstanding property taxes, according to a U.S. report.
The former Cheers star allegedly owes more than $41,000 (£25,625) on her mansion in Clearwater, and, according to the National Enquirer, Alley had until 31 March (11) to hand over the cash to Pinellas County officials - but she missed the deadline and the five bedroom, four bathroom house is now listed as a "delinquent real estate tax" property.
2011-06-08, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
There's a new academic treatise on Scientology coming out this September, and it's a very welcome addition to the literature surrounding L. Ron Hubbard's odd organization.
Hugh B. Urban, Ohio State University religious studies professor, has given us, in his Princeton University Press tome, a history that does its best to keep above the fray between claims and counterclaims about Scientology, and, for the most part, he succeeds.
But along the way, if Urban is somewhat charitable to Hubbard at times, The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion also holds very little back about the controversies that Scientology has found itself in, and that are largely of its own making.
2011-06-03, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Jan Eastgate is president of one of Scientology's more annoying front groups, the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights. The CCHR occasionally fools local politicians into thinking it really cares about something besides proliferating Scientology. It does so by telling people that its primary interest is the human rights of everyone.
Well, the CCHR may have a harder time with that line now that its leader has been arrested for trampling all over the civil rights of a little girl who was the victim of sexual abuse.
The owner of a downtown auto garage claims to have an unusual bargaining chip in his attempts to sell his property: the Church of Scientology.
Charlie Gruver offered his old gas station, Gruver's Chevron Service, to the city for $1.5 million. He said its location, on the way to Clearwater Beach, was a good fit for the city's downtown redevelopment plans.
Officials opted against buying the property, balking at the asking price. That's when Gruver told them he would instead sell the land to church representatives, who he said had recently shown interest.
The Church of Scientology was the buyer of five properties located in downtown Clearwater. The land and buildings were sold together in two packages.
Package A contained three adjacent properties with three small buildings, totaling 6,280 square feet on .88 acres of land. The addresses are 305 South Osceola Ave., 311 South Osceola Ave. and 300 South Ft. Harrison Ave.
The purchase price was $1.847 million and equaled the minimum bid established by commissioners in 2010. The county retained land for use to access its cooling system and a drainage easement.
Package B includes six parcels of land currently in use by the Department of Environmental Management. The property at 300 South Garden Ave. houses the air quality division and the administration building is at 512 South Ft. Harrison Ave. The two buildings total 22,880 square feet and 1.37 acres of land.
The Church of Scientology will expand its footprint in downtown Clearwater after Pinellas County commissioners voted 6-0 Tuesday to sell about 2 acres of county property there.
The county's parcels are vacant or being phased out as part of downsizing and budget cuts. The church, whose growth downtown has miffed some critics, was the sole bidder, agreeing to pay $6.7 million.
Use of Scientology-based slogans and pamphlets at the city's new youth outreach center have raised questions, but "The 21 Ways to Happiness" is just a common-sense motto that helps teach morals and values to at-risk youth, Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department Executive Director Tommy Ramirez Jr. said.
The walls of The Bridge, which opened Friday at the former Harlingen Police Station, are decorated with slogans that are included in the writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
"There are no religions being taught, advocated, or preached by the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department nor anyone associated with the department," Ramirez said Monday.
Pinellas County is preparing to sell five buildings in downtown Clearwater to the Church of Scientology — much to the annoyance of Clearwater's mayor.
The buildings, on about 2 acres total, are vacant or little used. Most are between the County Courthouse and Scientology's complex of downtown buildings.
Not everyone gets the joke, though. A couple of hours north Monterey, in a large house not far from Oakland airport, a famous evangelical preacher called Harold Camping will be spending this evening surrounded by close family members, praying, reading from the Bible, and keeping an eye fixed on CNN.
When the clock strikes 6pm, Mr Camping believes that a large earthquake will indicate the Second Coming of the Lord. Roughly 2 per cent of the world's population will be immediately "raptured" to Heaven, he predicts. The rest of us will endure a few months of fire and brimstone here on Earth, before being sent to the fiery pits of Hell.
The State Prosecutor's Office claims that Finkelstein and several members of the Bakher family have spent the last year planning various criminal acts, including a plan to target the new scientology center in Jaffa and an attempt to hurt Tel Aviv Municipality's construction control chief. They also tried to murder Finkelstein's ex-wife's partner, according to the indictment.
Firefighters were called to a fire at Brisbane's Church of Scientology in the city's inner-south this morning.
It is understood a discarded cigarette sparked the fire in a pile of rubbish in the courtyard of the church about 2am.
"Exactly what it was that caused Pte McBride to act or react in the extreme way he did when he had been happy positive and looking forward to the future just days before his death remains a mystery," he said.
But what is known is that Pte McBride had been deeply involved in the Church of Scientology, undertaking many of its courses in the two years before his death.
Queensland Coroner John Lock was critical of the Church, finding there was a clear inference that it deliberately dispatched its file on Pte McBride to the United States to ensure that it could not be produced to the inquest,
Narconon International, a non-profit drug treatment organization, asked Associate District Court Judge James Bland to dismiss a case Monday that claimed the non-profit was negligent in the treatment of a former patient.
The lawsuit was filed by former patient and Pennsylvania resident Robert Travaglini on April 24, 2011.
The defendant claims that the Pittsburg County Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Narconon International.
2011-05-11, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
In today's case, Rathbun has released the first installment of a series that uncovers a stunning secret 2006 operation aimed at Richard Leiby, a Washington Post staff writer and editor who for years did some of the best reporting on Scientology.
According to Rathbun and the documents he has released, Scientology wanted to silence Leiby by investigating his 2005 divorce.
Marty Rathbun, the former high-ranking Scientology official who last brought us news that a Vanity Fair writer spent 20 years as a secret Scientology spy, has dug into his archives again to find a memo offering a rare glimpse into the cult's campaign against Leiby, whom it regarded as an enemy and "suppressive person" for his reporting. The 2006 memo, printed in full below, details the cult's efforts to gather information on Leiby's separation from his wife, including searching her garbage for "any specific data as to why she kicked him out, what he is planning on doing, etc." The spying campaign was apparently sparked by a reporting call Leiby put in to the church.
Did Tom Cruise and Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder band together to bankrupt an alt-weekly newspaper and falsely label it anti-Semitic? That's the titillating suggestion made by Tablet magazine, a Jewish news and culture site, in an article published today.
The Church of Scientology is losing members in Germany but is campaigning to recruit more followers and increase its size, the German government says.
The controversial organization has over 4,500 members in Germany, according to a federal government response to a parliamentary inquiry submitted by the socialist Left party.
In addition to working through its churches, known as "Orgs," as well as "Celebrity Centres" and other missions, the group is promoting more than a dozen other Scientology-related initiatives.
Prof Nicholas Haslam, of the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, said the Oxford Capacity Analysis test was not an accepted personality test.
"It is a tool associated with the Church of Scientology that has no standing in the professional community of psychology practitioners and researchers, that lacks basic evidence of validity, and that often has been criticized for how it is mis-used," he said.
2011-04-28, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
What a week it's been in the world of Scientology watching. After a bizarre goon squad tried to intimidate Marty Rathbun at his Corpus Christi home, and then character actor Michael Fairman made public his excommunication declaration, things seemed to be whipping up into something of a fervor.
And now, within a day of each other, both Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the two most high-ranking and high-profile defectors in recent Scientology history, were each notified by T-Mobile that someone was using Social Security Numbers to get into their cellphone records.
2011-04-26, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Berrin found that the Center's board didn't seem too concerned about Tom's involvement in Scientology. One trustee told her Cruise shouldn't be held responsibility for the actions of an entire religion. Another said Cruise was a major giver to the Center and had been for two decades. A third trustee admitted she didn't know anything about Scientology (ugh).
Perhaps most importantly, Berrin found that the Simon Wiesenthal Center trustees seemed almost proud of how much controversy their choice was kicking up. And with the FBI investigation into Scientology maybe not really turning out to be going anywhere, it's hard to imagine the SWC caving over it.
In other Scientology News, The Daily's Hunter Walker has another good dispatch, this one about Scientology's ongoing real estate buying spree.
2011-04-23, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
For Scientology watchers, spectacular news this morning. Familiar television and movie character actor Michael Fairman, a longtime member of the "church," has made public the document which declares him a "Suppressive Person" and tosses him out of Scientology.
Like the director Paul Haggis, who also made his unhappiness with Scientology's leadership plain, Fairman is not leaving the organization quietly. Posting his expulsion letter at Marty Rathbun's blog, Fairman blasts Scientology for dismissing him after he had spent years promoting the church with work in its videos and television commercials. Despite all that work, the SP letter vaguely accuses Fairman of various deficiencies, such as "financial irregularities."
2011-04-21, Jeff Jacobsen, Letter to Editor, Orangeville Citizen
I would like to point out that Scientology has a long history of dragging out construction programs.
For example, their Super Power building in Clearwater Florida had its groundbreaking in 1998, yet the building has never yet been completed. The church made continuous statements that the project would be done "by the end of the year" and such, but it has never been completed. You can see more such history in a letter I sent warning Clearwater at www.lisa mcpherson.org/cos/construction.
Also, Scientology does not like outsiders visiting. In fact, Scientology is trying to close down a highway that goes through their property north of Hemet, California. They turn their sprinklers to face the street and turn them on when protesters come by.
2011-04-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
The saga of Marty Rathbun just keeps getting stranger and stranger.
At one time, Rathbun was one of the highest ranking members of Scientology, privy to its innermost secrets, a man who "audited" (counseled) members as important as Tom Cruise, and a key figure in the organization's efforts to fend off curious reporters.
Since Rathbun "blew" a few years ago (Scientology's word for defecting), it's been fascinating to watch him become the organization's biggest problem.
That was never more clear than this week, when Scientology sent a bizarre goon squad to intimidate Rathbun at his Corpus Christi home.
After the jump: We are from Scientology, and we have cameras attached to our heads!
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) believes Scientology is recruiting children through Facebook and other social networks.
The domestic intelligence agency is ramping up its surveillance on the controversial group.
Scientology has posted several videos titled "Jugend für Menschenrechte" (Youth for human rights) and "Sag nein zu Drogen - sag ja zum Leben" (Say no to drugs, say yes to life) on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other networks including the immensely popular SchülerVZ, which exclusively targets schoolkids. Viewers are encouraged to sign up for Scientology online groups.
2011-04-17, Stephen Kent, FECRIS, University of Alberta
The total rejection of the 'testimonies' of former members is not social science, and future generations of scholars will look back on this rejection with incredulity. What should matter in the social sciences is that researchers obtain accurate information under ethical circumstances. Regardless of who provides it, social scientists simply should attempt to verify its content by comparing it to information that others provide or that the researchers obtained in other ways -- a process called triangulation. The more that independent sources point to the same facts, the higher the likelihood of the facts being accurate. Rejecting former members' accounts, therefore, without checking them is more than simply bad social science, it actually is ideology.
The tale is stranger than fiction.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a guru from India, gathered 2,000 followers at a remote eastern Oregon ranch. Arriving in search of enlightenment, the Rajneeshees became a political and social force that collided with traditional Oregon.
Ultimately, the conflict led to attempted murder, global manhunts and prison time.
Twenty-five years later, long-secret government files and now-talkative participants make it clear that things were far worse at Rancho Rajneesh than many realized.
Three months after the aborted Comini plot, the commune collapsed and the Rajneeshees' darkest secrets tumbled out.
Hand-picked teams of Rajneeshees had executed the largest biological terrorism attack in U.S. history, poisoning at least 700 people. They ran the largest illegal wiretapping operation ever uncovered. And their immigration fraud to harbor foreigners remains unrivaled in scope. The revelations brought criminal charges, defections, global manhunts and prison time.
But there was much more.
Ava drove the team east on the freeway to The Dalles and about midnight dropped off Yogini and Anugiten just blocks from Durow's office. The two pried open a window, crawled inside and closed the drapes.
For about an hour, Yogini and Anugiten rifled through cabinets and desks, scattering government papers all about. To start the fire, they placed eight candles inside cardboard squares soaked with lighter fluid. The pair intended the candles to act as timers, igniting the cardboard once they burned down. The two arsonists lit the candles, crept back out the window, and closed it. But that starved the candles of oxygen, and only two fires started.
The Wasco County commissioner ran for the bathroom, vomiting. His worried wife insisted he go to the hospital, where doctors admitted him as they tried to diagnose what was wrong.
Two hundred miles away in a mountain cabin at Camp Sherman, a second Wasco County commissioner awoke, ill. Ray Matthew stayed in bed, alone, for two days, unsure what was causing his violent sickness.
But a handful of Rajneeshees knew. The men had been poisoned the day before as they toured the religious sect's ranch, drinking down potent bacteria stirred into their water.
Representatives of the Church of Scientology appeared before Mono council Tuesday night to give a presentation about their plans for the Hockley Highlands Inn & Conference Centre property it purchased in 2009 on Mono's Third Line EHS.
Angela Ilasi, community programs director for the church's national office, told council the property will become a national retreat for those in the "more advanced" levels of study in the Church of Scientology, once renovations to the 159,000- square-foot conference centre are completed.
While she couldn't give a specific date for the project's completion, Ms. Ilasi said it could be toward the end of 2012.
About that time, Hulse and two other Wasco County commissioners arrived at the ranch for a tour. They parked Hulse's car outside the commune's welcome center and loaded into a commune van for their visit. When they got back, Hulse's car had a flat. The Rajneeshees arranged a repair on the spot that would cost Hulse $12.
As the commissioners waited in the hot August sun, Puja approached, offering each a glass of water. Her gesture was odd, for Puja was in her medical whites and had no role as a greeter.
The thirsty men took the water.
Local hikers need not worry about how plans for a national Scientology retreat in Mono will impact the Bruce Trail, a church representative told town council this week.
There is no intention to alter the trail or limit access as it passes through the former Hockley Highlands Inn & Conference Centre.
Demolition began last week on the old Ivory Bean House on Washington Street. After the building began shedding bricks in February, the city's Inspectional Services Department ordered the Bean's owner, the Church of Scientology, to demolish the structure.
As far as the church is concerned, it had gotten what it had wanted since it purchased the building in 2008.
Residents at a long-established trailer park have been forced to leave in order to make way for an expanded Scientology-owned golf course, it has emerged.
The Sleepy Hollow Trailer Park, in San Jacinto, California, sits next to one of the Church of Scientology's headquarters and has been providing affordable housing for more than 30 years.
Now all but one of its 21 residents have gone after Business Management Services, which buys properties for the Church of Scientology, bought the land from an investment company.
The Church of Scientology wants to get down with its bad self and expand the golf course next to its San Jacinto, Calif., headquarters. Sounds fun -- we assume scientologists are pretty good with a 7-iron -- except two residents of Sleepy Hollow trailer park are the last ones standing in the way of the construction.
The Sleepy Hollow Trailer Park has been a nook of affordable housing north of the San Jacinto River at State Street for at least 30 years.
Now almost all the residents are gone. In June, Business Management Services, which buys properties for the Church of Scientology, acquired the property from an investment company, and most of the 21 tenants have since moved out. The property near San Jacinto is riddled with piles of wood debris, abandoned furniture and a couple of single-wide mobile homes and trailers.
Farrakhan also said he had spent time at the Church of Scientology's celebrity center in Los Angeles and had been impressed with the church's method of "auditing" -- a process he said was comparable to therapy.
He said the church's founder L. Ron Hubbard had a mission to "civilize white people," adding that Hubbard "is so exceedingly valuable to every white person on this earth."
Scientology books were available for sale at the Savior's Day event, but Farrakhan said he was not converting and did not need a new religion.
Bette Orsini, a tenacious and spirited reporter whose investigative stories on the Church of Scientology won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980, died Saturday (March 26, 2011) after months of declining health. She was 85.
In her 41 years at the St. Petersburg Times, Mrs. Orsini won a raft of national and state awards for exposing problems and wrongdoing in schools and society.
But she may be best known for her three years investigating the church, which in the mid 1970s had made a mysterious entrance into downtown Clearwater, where leaders planned to erect a "world spiritual headquarters."
Plans for a national Church of Scientology retreat are heading to Mono council next month, when church members are scheduled to bring local elected officials up to speed on what they intended to do with the former Highlands Inn & Conference Centre property.
"They're updating council in terms of the kind of business case that they're putting together," Mayor Laura Ryan said of the delegation. "Any actual approvals on the property come under the Niagara Escarpment."
Last year, the Niagara Escarpment Commission approved use of the former inn as a religious institution.
To defend itself against charges of charlatanism, Narconon has managed to marshal scant scientific evidence. The same few names defend the organization in the media, decade after decade. One such supporter is Dr. David Root, who practices occupational medicine and is, not coincidentally, a member of the Narconon Scientific Advisory Board. Root, who claims to treat his patients with the “Hubbard detoxification program” at his Sacramento office, told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1991 that drugs and other poisons “come out through the skin in the form of sebaceous, or fatty, sweat. This material is frequently visible and drips, or is rubbed off on towels. It may be black, brown, blue, green, yellow and occasionally red. Most is washed off in the shower…and so is not seen.”
Mayor Kevin Priddle was the recipient of an inaugural Humanitarian of the Year award given by Narconon, a drug rehab center, in observance of his continued help and support for drug-free lives in his community.
However, most of Yarralinda's income - $7765 per student - was allocated to paying off debts, according to My School.
A former board member at Yarralinda, Paul Schofield, who resigned in 2009, alleged the school's debt repayments were so high because the school had taken out a mortgage to lend money to the Church of Scientology for its headquarters in Ascot Vale.
''I was livid the school had been left with this debt in order to fund the Scientology building,'' he said.
A historic Washington Street building owned by the Church of Scientology is expected to be demolished next week after bricks fell from the structure last month, prompting the city to cordon off the area in the interest of public safety.
According to Attorney Marc LaCasse, the Church has hired a demolition contractor and is expecting work to begin within a week's time. A demolition permit application was pending with the city's Inspectional Services Department as of Wednesday, LaCasse said via email.
The Church of Scientology is planning to build its national headquarters in a former resort near Orangeville, just outside of Toronto. The church is planning a significant overhaul of the Hockley Highlands Inn and Conference Centre in Mono, which sits on more than 80 hectares of land and will allow Scientologists to establish a campus with five buildings totaling 160,000 square feet.
Hidden behind a thick wall of trees atop the Niagara Escarpment just north of Toronto, the Church of Scientology is building a massive retreat where believers will "journey through the advanced realms" of their faith.
The facility, which includes more than 80 hectares and five buildings that total around 160,000 square feet, will serve as Scientology's national headquarters when it opens next year.
Long working hours, low pay and lack of education for a minor among charges
Two suits, one against the Church of Scientology and another against their publishing division, Bridge Publications, were filed in California Superior Court on behalf of a nineteen year-old former member of Scientology and Sea Org. Daniel Montalvo was raised in the Church of Scientology. The lawsuit seeks both punitive and compensatory damages.The young man signed a "billion year contract" at the age of six.
In response to a request from Catholic Online for a statement concerning two lawsuits filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by former Scientologist Daniel Montalvo, International spokesman for the Church of Scientology, Tommy Davis, sent us the following statement:
As you well know anyone can claim anything in a civil court filing and the recent lawsuits against the Church are certainly proof of that. I would very much appreciate your including our statement in your posting to provide balance.
Now a young man who says he escaped from a Scientology workplace in the city of Commerce after growing up in the church has made some bombshell claims -- including disregard for child welfare laws, failure to report child neglect to authorities, false imprisonment and violation of labor laws -- in a pair of suits filed in L.A. against Scientology and the publisher of its L. Ron Hubbard books.
Montalvo was 19 when he made a break for it last year with the help of a Scientology defector. He ended up in Florida. When he tried to contact his parents, however, a Scientologist allegedly talked him into returning to L.A.
While in L.A., the suit claims, Montalvo was falsely imprisoned.
John Mappin, whose Camelot Castle Hotel is on the edge of the cliff at Tintagel, overlooking the island on which stand the brooding ruins associated with the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, says closure could be a disaster for local businesses.
Mr Mappin has arranged a meeting with English Heritage's top man in the West Country to warn him that the plan to close Tintagel Castle on weekdays in the winter is "a dreadful mistake".
The Church of Scientology is setting up base in Mono, at the former Hockley Highlands Inn & Conference Centre, with plans to establish a national retreat for members of the faith.
While Scientologists are excited about the idea - this will be the first retreat of its kind in Canada and one of only a handful around the world - at least one former member is raising a red flag.
Adam Holland, a 22-year-old Toronto man who was raised in the church, is concerned the rural landscape will make leaving a difficult task for anyone who chooses to abandon the controversial religion, as he did.
A 19-year-old man claims his Scientologist parents "ceded custody" of him at the age of 5 to the controversial church, which then entered into a "billion year contract" with him as a minor, forced him to work hundreds of hours a week at a Scientology school for as little $35, denied him an education, and forced him back to work just two days after he lost a finger in a work accident.
The Church of Scientology Mission of Boulder briefly evacuated Tuesday evening after receiving a bomb threat.
Susan Gaut, director of special affairs at the mission, said the threat was a prank call and the evacuation was a precaution.
2011-03-05, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Today, Daniel turns 20 years old. Yesterday, he filed two stunning lawsuits against Scientology with the help of attorney S. Christopher "Kit" Winter.
Winter helped Montalvo avoid the grand reaching that tends to characterize lawsuits against Scientology, and instead kept his complaints laser-focused on damning charges about how children are used by the church in troubling ways.
Specifically, Montalvo's lawsuits paint a picture of a child who was essentially abandoned by his two Scientologist parents to the organization, was signed to a billion-year contract at only 6 years of age, and through his teens was forced to work up to 100 hours a week with only the barest schooling, and for wretched pay (about $35 a week).
The manslaughter trial for snake oil salesman James Arthur Ray is set to kick off in Yavapai County courtroom today, and it will be televised live on the In Session network thanks to a ruling from Judge Warren Darrow.
Ray's been charged with three counts of manslaughter for the October 2009 deaths of three participants of a sweat lodge ceremony in Sedona.
According to court documents obtained by New Times, Ray discouraged participants from leaving the sweat lodge, even as some were throwing up and passing out.
William Rex Fowler, whose software firm faced ruin in part because he donated around $200,000 to the Church of Scientology, argued that he had been about to kill himself when his partner, Thomas Ciancio, interrupted him -- and wound up with multiple gunshots to the head. But a jury didn't buy it, convicting Fowler, who survived his suicide attempt, of murder.
As noted by the Denver Post, the jury didn't spend ages wrestling with its decision, returning its verdict in just a little over two hours. And while the judge overseeing the trial forbade attorneys from mentioning Scientology while delivering their arguments, the controversial church was the subject of much debate among observers, as is clear from our earlier coverage, on view below.
Anonymous has attracted plenty of attention from all sorts of news organizations; but their recent pro-Wikileaks hack attacks have finally landed them on the most important show in all of television: "The Colbert Report." Colbert dug into the twisted saga of Anonymous vs. the security firm HBgary, which ended with HBGary employees' inboxes spilled all over the web. Colbert at his geekiest, and good press for Anonymous—here's a rare mainstream outlet portraying them in almost heroic light, compared with usual darkness.
2011-02-25, Sophia Tareen, Associated Press, Seattle Times
The Nation of Islam, long known for its promotion of black nationalism and self-reliance, now is calling attention to another core belief that perhaps isn't so well-known: the existence of UFOs.
When thousands of followers gather in suburban Chicago this weekend for the group's annual Saviours' Day convention, one of the main events will include a panel of scientists discussing worldwide UFO sightings, which they claim are on the rise.
Murder victim Thomas Ciancio was happy and upbeat about working at Fowler Software until early 2009, when the business began to fail, witnesses said Wednesday.
Many of the company's financial woes could be linked to a decision by the company's founder, William Rex Fowler, to funnel as much as $250,000 of the company's funds to an outside group.
That organization was the Church of Scientology, according to testimony.
The City Council last week approved a proclamation declaring March 13 as L. Ron Hubbard Centennial Day in West Valley City. The proclamation will be sent to Tampa, Fla., where a celebration marking the day is planned for next month.
West Valley Mayor Mike Winder said the city routinely grants requests for similar proclamations, which only cost a few minutes of time, and that proclamations recognizing other religious figures, such as Joseph Smith or Mother Teresa, would be treated the same.
The Friends of L. Ron Hubbard Foundation in Los Angeles submitted the proclamation, but the request originated from followers in Utah, according to foundation representative Louis Ricketts.
When Canadian film director and writer Paul Haggis ended his 34-year relationship with the Church of Scientology he wrote a letter to Tommy Davis, church's spokesman.
Haggis had a number of issues with the church including its position on gay marriage. His resignation from the church was a big deal because he was one of its highest profile members.
The New Yorker put the "long" in long-form this week with "The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology," a piece by Lawrence Wright that weighs in at around 25,000 words. The article has generated a lot of buzz for its compelling storytelling as well as its subject matter: a week later the story still sits atop the magazine's most popular and most emailed lists.
Also active in Britain is the Church of Scientology, founded by L Ron Hubbard in New Jersey in 1952, which boasts many high-profile members in Hollywood, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and John Travolta.
The Church of Scientology denies it is a cult - and Scientology is recognised as a religion in a number of countries, including America, but not Britain. ('Is Scientology a cult?' asks the organisation's website. 'No. It is a religion in the fullest sense of the word.')
The upcoming first-degree murder trial of an Adams County business owner with links to the Church of Scientology will be about the facts of the case and not the defendant's religion, the presiding judge said today.
"Someone's religion has never been an issue in my courtroom and it won't be in this case," said Adams County District Judge Francis Wasserman.
After the screening, everyone drifted over to the Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel. Haggis was in a corner receiving accolades from his friends when I found him. I asked him if he felt that he had finally left Scientology. "I feel much more myself, but there's a sadness," he admitted. "If you identify yourself with something for so long, and suddenly you think of yourself as not that thing, it leaves a bit of space." He went on, "It's not really the sense of a loss of community. Those people who walked away from me were never really my friends." He understood how they felt about him, and why. "In Scientology, in the Ethics Conditions, as you go down from Normal through Doubt, then you get to Enemy, and, finally, near the bottom, there is Treason. What I did was a treasonous act."
I once asked Haggis about the future of his relationship with Scientology. "These people have long memories," he told me. "My bet is that, within two years, you're going to read something about me in a scandal that looks like it has nothing to do with the church." He thought for a moment, then said, "I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't."
One of the many commendable things about Lawrence Wright's recent lengthy investigation into Scientology in the New Yorker is an interview with John Brousseau, a former member of Scientology's Sea Org who claims to have been drafted to do what amounts to slave labour for Tom Cruise. Brousseau, who is apparently quite handy, told Wright that he nickel-plated and custom painted two of Cruise's motorcycles at Cruise's request, and that he gutted and customised Cruise's favourite Ford Excursion, all while being paid $US50 a week as a grunt in Scientology's brownshirt militia. The painted bikes and SUV were presented to Cruise as a gift from Miscavige.
The building is boarded up, and much of it has been vacant for over 20 years. It became so rundown that it was taken over by the city in a receivership case in 2005, a rare last-resort measure that the city reserves for buildings that appear abandoned by property owners who are behind on their taxes. It was eventually bought by the Church of Scientology in 2008.
The church avoids "official" political donations (it is, after all, a tax-exempt religious organization), but prominent members still support politicians and politicians return the favor. Florida's Mark Foley was a Scientology ally. (It was rumored that he checked into a church-affiliated recovery center after his resignation from Congress.) As a state legislator, Nevada's Sharron Angle supported a Scientology-affiliated drug treatment therapy program for prisoners.
These motorcycles belong to Tom Cruise and David Miscavige, the leader of Scientology. Miscavige's is in the center; Cruise's Honda Rune is on the left and his Triumph Rocket is on the right. Those luscious, deep red tones were custom-painted by Scientology drones earning less than $1 an hour.
The church's former Inspector General, Mark Rathbun claims to be in possession of secret mails written by Yvonne Gonzalves, the Director of Vehicles of the Sea Org branch, the top-secret organization within the Church.
This organization is said to be responsible for building the trailer-style bus, called the "Silver Screen", for which staffers put in nearly 9,000 man hours to produce. Two shifts worked steadily for a total of 17 hour each day, Gonzalves wrote in the email.
The property, the former Ivory Bean building, is owned by the Church of Scientology, which has been saying since it bought the building in 2008 along with the neighboring Hotel Alexandra, that it plans to renovate it for use as part of its new Boston headquarters.
ESSENDON MP Justin Madden has defended his decision to attend the opening of a new Scientology centre in Ascot Vale.
Mr Madden said he was invited as the local member and asked to speak at the opening.
A practising Catholic, Mr Madden said he was happy to attend the functions and events of other "faith communities".
2011-02-08, Joe Coscarelli, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
A Veritable Thetan Army: On with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, Wright explains that the New Yorker used five fact checkers for the extensive article, who totaled 971 double-checked queries for the Church of Scientology:
In September 2010, Wright, his editor, the New Yorker fact-checking team and the magazine's editor-in-chief, David Remnick, met for eight hours with the spokesperson for the Church of Scientology, Tommy Davis, along with Davis' wife and four lawyers representing the church, to discuss the facts in the piece.
More than 2000 people attended the launch of the church's multi-million dollar home on Mt Alexander Rd on January 29, breaching its permit capacity by more than 1400 at the invite-only event. Among the attendees were Scientology leader David Miscavige, Melbourne singer Kate Ceberano, Lord Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle, Essendon MP Justin Madden and Moonee Valley councillor Paul Giuliano.
According to the article, agents from an FBI task force on human trafficking have been interviewing former members of Scientology about abuse in the church since at least December, 2009, and the case remains open. Why human trafficking?
In another part of the building is the Purification Centre, for what is described as a religious ritual to free one from drugs and toxins in the body's fatty tissues. Those with heart and some other medical conditions are told not to do the program. People pay about $1500 for the purification, which often involves weeks of running on a treadmill and long periods in a sauna. Many vitamins are taken including vitamin A - people start on 5000 international units a day and some can build up to 50,000 a day.
Australian Medical Association vice-president Steve Hambleton says there is no physiological need for a purification regime, and prolonged use of more than 25,000 international units of vitamin A daily can cause serious side effects.
2011-01-30, Susan Taylor Martin, St. Petersburg Times
Nationwide Title Clearing, a Palm Harbor company that processes documents for the residential mortgage industry, is owned by members of the Church of Scientology and some of its top managers are Scientologists.
This Open Letter is not an apology for anything I have written in the past on Scientology or on the cult controversy. I stand by, and am quite happy with, my body of work up to this point. Rather, in light of new information I have been receiving on the Church of Scientology, there are certain aspects of my scholarship that I would like to clarify and supplement as they bear on the current controversy.
So, it's with some delight that we turn to the interview given by John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston to Hello! in celebration of the birth of their son Benjamin. No underplaying the crackalackadingdong stuff with these operating thetans. The secret of their marriage? "The tools of Scientology," says Travolta.
"We had a beautiful quiet birth, based on L Ron Hubbard's philosophy," offers Preston, by which she means she and the birthing staff refrained from saying anything during labour, normal shouty childbirth being "a setup that the devil himself would not countenance" according to L Ron Hubbard.
Councillor Martin Mullaney (Lib Dem Moseley, Kings Heath) requested that this allowance is reviewed at a full cabinet meeting.
He said: "We are reviewing which organisations we give the 80 per cent discretionary rate relief to.
"Normally it's charities or religious groups and as it's been pointed out by various local residents in Moseley, that Birmingham is one of the few local authorities that give 80 per cent reductions to the Church of Scientology. They are not recognised by the Inland Revenue as a church or religious group."
For more than six months, Wired's Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen has possessed -- but refuses to publish -- the key evidence in one of the year's most significant political stories: the arrest of U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning for allegedly acting as WikiLeaks' source. In late May, Adrian Lamo -- at the same time he was working with the FBI as a government informant against Manning -- gave Poulsen what he purported to be the full chat logs between Manning and Lamo in which the Army Private allegedly confessed to having been the source for the various cables, documents and video that WikiLeaks released throughout this year. In interviews with me in June, both Poulsen and Lamo confirmed that Lamo placed no substantive restrictions on Poulsen with regard to the chat logs: Wired was and remains free to publish the logs in their entirety.
Pinellas County Tax Collector Diane Nelson and her staff deserve credit for finally requiring the Church of Scientology to collect bed taxes at its five busy hotels in downtown Clearwater - though it shouldn't have taken 10 years and a call from a St. Petersburg Times reporter to get the ball rolling. Now state officials need to ensure that the church's hotels also are paying sales taxes. Allowing the church's hotels to dodge their taxes is unfair to every other taxpayer in the state. The Church of Scientology is exempted from paying taxes on its facilities used for religious purposes, but not for others such as hotels and restaurants. Yet no one has a good excuse why the county and state have never required the church hotels - including downtown Clearwater's landmark Fort Harrison Hotel - to pay up. The neglect had going on for decades and cost the county millions.
2010-12-17, BC Bass, Bennington Vale Evening Transcript
Clerkschilde said he pondered the omens for many hours before he realized the message God was trying to impart. He now says he's converting to Scientology.
"I'm just heartbroken over the destruction of the tabernacle, but I'm not going to question God's plans. Obviously, He's plenty ticked off with the LDS over something. Maybe it's all that money they raised to fight gay marriage in California instead of installing fire alarms at the tabernacle. I can't rightly say. At least with Scientology, I'll have similar restrictions about what I can eat, drink, do and think, but I won't have to go see that court-ordered psychologist now. Religious objections and the like, you know."
Pressed by the staff of Pinellas Tax Collector Diane Nelson, the Church of Scientology agreed to start collecting the tourist tax a few months ago and pay it monthly to Nelson's office, the St. Petersburg Times has learned.
It's a surprising reversal that will generate significant new revenue for Pinellas' tourist promotion efforts.
But the change raises questions about another tax that Pinellas hotel guests pay – the 7 percent sales tax. Does the church now collect that tax from its guests too?
With such a checkered past and a low approval rating, Scientology desperately seeks legitimacy in order to attract new recruits. This is the goal of the Drug-Free Marshals. Scientology is on the drug-free bandwagon not to help the children, but for the public relations. It is also an effective means to draw in the unsuspecting and begin the brainwashing process.
Now that you know just a little about Scientology, do you really want them sponsoring anything in your community, let alone at your school?
Scientology Pageant was first performed off Broadway seven years ago, but this will be its Florida premiere, right in the back yard of Scientology's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater. When Kyle Jarrow, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for the show, heard it was being done in the Tampa Bay area, the irony was not lost on him.
"Wow!'' Jarrow told the St. Petersburg Times when the production was announced in November. "Clearwater is almost ground zero for Scientology. That's sure to be extra controversial.''
The church claims its detoxification program developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard uses "exact technology" and is the only successful drug and alcohol dependency treatment in the world.
But the clinical nurse manager at the Tennant Creek Hospital this week advised the NT Government that the detoxification regime was dangerous and "potentially fatal" to renal patients. Renal disease is common among Aborigines in the NT.
The pamphlet gives a formula for a high dose "drug bomb" vitamin supplement to supposedly break drug dependency, which it warns can corrode the stomach and cause ulcers. It advises to take aluminium hydroxide tablets which gives adverse nervous system side-effects - to ease any upset.
Piedra's contributions helped land him in bankruptcy, owing $3.9 million to a long list of creditors. A lawsuit in Miami alleges that Scientology groups played a key role in his downfall.
Bankruptcy trustee Barry Mukamal contends Piedra schemed "to defraud patients in order to transfer large sums of money" to the Church of Scientology and related groups.
Involved, Mukamal alleges, were nine Scientology-related entities, three church members and a Pinellas County management training firm run by Scientologists. He sued them all, seeking to recover the thousands they got from Piedra.
Scientology denies any involvement.
Agape Ministries has been stripped of its legal status as a religion, lost its tax exemption and will be sued by the Federal Government for a decade of unpaid debt.
The District Court yesterday gave the nation's banks 72 hours to hand over all records concerning alleged cult leader Rocco Leo, his wife, his closest confidants and the two-state empire he controls.
The Advertiser has learnt those records are essential to the Australian Taxation Office's efforts to calculate the former church's total debt, which could exceed $1 million.
The pamphlet also gives a recipe for a calcium-magnesium drink to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
But a nurse at the Tennant Creek Hospital has advised the Northern Territory Government the church's program is dangerous and "potentially fatal" for patients with renal disease, which is common among Aboriginals in the Northern Territory.
The Church of Scientology has been offering alcohol-dependent Aborigines a drug bomb therapy, which it has been told could kill people with kidney problems.
The Scientologists this week responded to a warning by the Northern Territory Health Department and stopped distributing literature which promotes a dangerous drug detoxification therapy.
She worked at the 2001 India earthquake; then she happened to be travelling through the US when the Twin Towers came down. She was asked by the Church to go there immediately and spent the following two weeks working alongside other volunteer ministers of all denominations at Ground Zero. "It changed my life," she says quietly. "I was a mess afterwards but I had some auditing and I was able to bounce back fresh as ever." While she was there she performed on-the-spot "assists" (a Scientology technique designed to get someone back into the present when their attention is stuck in some upsetting moment in the past) on emergency workers so they could keep on digging.
In the mean time, why not revisit some of the biggest stories from 2010 on our website: early in the year we investigated the Church of Scientology and its abusive treatment of some of its members and their families; the program also took us to the gypsy slums of Europe, the brutal battleground of Congo and the killing fields of Mexico's drug war. The Australian Government's home insulation program was in the spotlight too, along with Tony Abbott's leadership aspirations.
2010-10-18, Shelley Rossetter, St. Petersburg Times
The choice of holding the Nation of Islam's convention in the bay area underscores the organization's growing relationship with the Church of Scientology, based in Clearwater.
Connected by shared interests in improving literacy and ending drug abuse, the organizations forged a bond years ago in which members of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam were trained to administer Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's study techniques and drug-treatment programs.
During the four-day convention, Nation of Islam members had the chance to attend a "study tech" workshop and buy books from World Literacy Crusade, a tutoring program that uses the teachings of Hubbard.
If you've been down a mine for the past couple of months, a reminder: John Dixon, a previously obscure Cardiff councillor, wandered past a Scientology centre while on a wedding ring-buying trip to London, and wrote on Twitter that he better get away "before the stupid rubs off".
A Scientologist complained to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, who launched an inquiry.
Westminster, the City of London and Camden Council have been urged to scrap 80% rate relief on Church of Scientology buildings.
The Church of Scientology Religious Educational College Inc. is believed to have saved nearly £2m from commercial rate breaks in the capital - in 2008 the non-for profit organisation filed an income of almost £13m.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said voters do not want to see preferential treatment of an organisation the Charities Commission refused to designate a church for tax reasons.
The government is urging councils across the country to stop giving hundreds of thousands of pounds in tax breaks to the Church of Scientology.
The communities secretary, Eric Pickles, said a majority of the public did not want the "controversial organisation" to be given the kind of favourable treatment usually reserved for charities and questioned this use of public money.
The church, which is not classed as a religion by the Charity Commission, was described as a cult by a high court judge in 1984.
2010-10-15, Elisabeth Parker, St. Petersburg Times
Nation of Islam leaders have had ties with Scientology recently, but Muhammad would not say if they were meeting with Scientologists in this area.
"We are studying the Dianetics as a technology that can help members of our community," he said.
An unusual impasse between two area judges came to a close after a hearing Tuesday in federal court.
U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday clarified an order he issued last week, saying he never meant for it to stop Pinellas Senior Circuit Judge Robert E. Beach from withdrawing from a case involving the Church of Scientology.
Merryday said he issued the order only to prevent Beach from fining and suspending attorney Ken Dandar, who Beach determined had defied him.
NewsFeed generally believes that all religions are valid and that we should treat all of them with respect and all that liberal-arts jazz. But this story gives us the creeps.
The latest scandal from the Church of Scientology is the tale of 19-year-old Daniel Montalvo, who allegedly ran from the Church and found himself in jail for his efforts.
Pinellas Judge Robert E. Beach has filed a motion in federal court in Tampa saying U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday erred last week when he "permanently enjoined" Beach from carrying out sanctions against lawyer Ken Dandar, who is challenging Scientology.
Merryday's order appeared to prevent Beach, a circuit judge, from taking even the slightest action on the issue. Now Beach is asking the federal judge to dissolve his order, in part so Beach can do one more thing with the case: withdraw from it.
Recent reports have emerged that a defector from the elite group within Scientology called the Sea Org was first persuaded to travel back to a management building for the organization in California, where he was interrogated by an attorney for Scientology and then arrested.
A strange and twisted tale emerged from blogland this week -- the story of a Scientology refugee who was reportedly talked into returning to the organization, grilled by a church lawyer and subsequently arrested.
Nineteen-year-old Daniel Montalvo, a lifelong member of the church's core group, Sea Org, was released from jail Thursday in lieu of $20,000 bail. What did he do? That's a question we haven't been able to answer. Update: It's been answered, after the jump.
2010-10-08, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
An amazing story is hitting the Internet today of 19-year-old Daniel Montalvo, a lifelong Scientologist who decided to leave the wacky cabal, only to find himself arrested by LA sheriff's deputies and facing prison time for it.
"YOU suck cock on Hollywood Boulevard." This is the word of the Church of Scientology, according to its former spokesman Mike Rinder, spilling the beans in John Sweeney's BBC film this week. He was citing a text message from the office of the leader, David Miscavige, best man at Tom Cruise's wedding to Katie Holmes.
It was one of many bizarre obscenities quoted by Rinder who, after half a century inside the church, now says that it is a cult.
A federal judge has ordered a Pinellas judge and the Church of Scientology to halt their efforts to severely punish Ken Dandar, a Tampa lawyer who is taking the church to court for the second time in his career.
The action Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday involves Pinellas Judge Robert Beach, who has said he intends to impose a $130,000 fine on Dandar and possibly suspend his license to practice law.
The Church is not classed as a religion under Charity Law by the UK Charity Commission.
In 1999, the Commission ruled that it did not pass the "public benefit" test required for advancing religion as a charitable purpose.
But Westminster City Council classes the Church as a "non-registered charity" as it is "beneficial to the community."
It gives the church mandatory 80% rates relief on its London Celebrity Centre on Leinster Gardens, saving the church £165,303 over the past 10 years.
In a rare clash between courts, a federal judge on Tuesday said he will order a state judge not to interfere with a lawyer's handling of a federal case involving the Church of Scientology.
Visibly irritated, U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday granted a motion by Kennan Dandar, who is representing the estate of Kyle Thomas Brennan in a wrongful death suit against the church.
In a rare clash between courts, a federal judge today said he will order a state judge not to interfere with a lawyer's handling of a federal case involving the Church of Scientology.
A visibly irritated U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday granted a motion by lawyer Kennan Dandar, who is representing the estate of Kyle Thomas Brennan in a wrongful death suit against the church.
Mike Rinder used to be official spokesman for the church and now explains to John that it was no accident he lost his rag - the church's heavies had been goading him to do just that.
As Rinder reveals more of the cult's tricks, he and Sweeney are followed by strangers in 4x4s. And this time there's no suggestion they're just being paranoid.
Currently, Dandar is representing the estate of Kyle Thomas Brennan, who killed himself in 2007 while visiting his father, a church member. Brennan's mother, the administrator of his estate, claims church members deprived her son of prescribed psychotropic medication and negligently left a gun in his reach.
According to the church, Dandar violated the terms of the McPherson settlement when he took on Brennan's mother as a client. Pinellas-Pasco Senior Circuit Judge Robert Beach agreed with the church and ordered Dandar off the Brennan case.
But when Dandar tried to withdraw, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday, who is overseeing the federal case against the church, denied his request. His written order says neither Dandar nor his client wanted the lawyer removed.
According to Lightbourne's trial lawyer Carlson Shurland, the first person to find Jett after he collapsed was the Travoltas' maid, who alerted the front desk of the holiday resort where the family's residence is situated.
About 15 minutes passed before the emergency services were called, he says.
When Lightbourne and Rolle arrived, at about 10.45am, they were led to the bathroom, where a number of 'white people', he recalls, were huddled around a boy, who was naked and covered by a towel, lying on the marble floor.
THE state government has been accused of sponsoring a Scientology recruiting ground by granting the group's controversial drug treatment arm long-term control of a historic property in the Yarra Ranges.
Critics including former Scientologist Paul Schofield and independent South Australian senator Nick Xenophon have called on the government to review a Parks Victoria offer of a 21-year lease on O'Shannassy Lodge to Narconon, a group closely linked to Scientology.
Concerns have been raised about a partnership between the Federal Government and a drug awareness group run by members of the controversial Church of Scientology.
Corporate lawyer and researcher Grainne O'Donovan said the partnership could potentially be used by the church, through Drug Free Ambassadors Australia (DFAA), to try to recruit members from schools and youth groups.
The Church of Scientology, which paid $1.9 million for the building in 2007, is reviving it. After a year of planning, work began this summer to restore the building's main auditorium, a smaller side auditorium and the entrance facing Lafayette.
Merryday got Potter and Dandar to agree to stop all proceedings in state court -- including the church collecting the $130,000 judgment -- until both sides can present Merryday with full briefings and oral arguments.
However, Senior Circuit Judge Robert Beach, who found Dandar in contempt and levied the $130,000 judgment, said he isn't sure such an agreement can really halt what he's done. In fact, Beach said, he believes only a state appeals court could overturn his decision, not a federal judge.
The church's attorneys objected that Dandar violated his agreement. Senior Circuit Judge Robert Beach agreed and in June 2009 ordered Dandar to withdraw from the new case.
Dandar resisted for some time, even asking the Florida Supreme Court to review the case. Finally, though, four months ago Dandar filed a motion to withdraw from the federal lawsuit.
But on April 12, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday told him he cannot get out of it. The reason: No other attorney wants to take on Scientology. Two days later, records show, Beach found Dandar in willful contempt of court.
So Dandar is stuck between a state judge telling him to leave Scientology alone and a federal judge telling him he can't. And, according to federal court records, he has been fined $50,000 plus $1,000 a day by the state court until he withdraws from the federal case.
The church says it is concerned about the pharmaceutical links between medical researchers and psychiatrists and denies the request is harassment.
The University of Sydney has refused to release the requested documents and Monash is still processing the request.
Church of Scientology Australia president Vicki Dunstan said the documents were requested so the church could correct information being disseminated about itself.
Shelly Wilkins, executive director of the Scientology-funded Citizens Committee on Human Rights, said the FOI requests into mental health experts including Prof McGorry sought to expose links between psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry.
Prosecutors in Samara Region are taking a high-flying businessman to task for forcing his employees to go on scientology courses. The director of electronics company RosKabelSvyaz Lev Syrolev was threatening to sack faithless workers, but now faces charges for using extremist material.
"These practices are illegal and violate laws on combating extremist activity, labour laws, as well as the constitution of Russia," Prosecutors said in a press release. The Surgut city court considers the ideas of L Ron Hubbard, Scientology's founder, to "justify violence, and in particular ways to combat critics of scientology."
The city of Hamburg said this week it would suspend the work of its 17-year-old Scientology task force, one of the most vociferous critics of the secretive organization. Leader Ursula Caberta has successfully defended herself in numerous cases brought by Scientologists. However, the city says it will continue to monitor the group.
2010-08-07, Thomas C. Tobin, St. Petersburg Times, STLtoday
The Church of Scientology won an important victory in federal court this week when a judge dismissed two lawsuits that accused the church of labor law violations, human trafficking and forced abortions.
Claire and Marc Headley, who left Scientology in 2005, said the church controlled them with threats of harsh punishment and other tactics that prevented them from leaving the Sea Organization, Scientology's religious order.
But U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer ruled Thursday that the Sea Org is protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion.
The Church of Scientology won an important victory in federal court Thursday when a judge dismissed two lawsuits that accused the church of labor law violations, human trafficking and forced abortions.
Claire and Marc Headley, who left Scientology in 2005, said the church controlled them with threats of harsh punishment and other tactics that prevented them from leaving the Sea Organization, Scientology's religious order.
Yes, Scientology. This short ad and a number of other well-made TV commercials are now running nationwide on various cable TV networks and online challenging viewers to investigate the "life changing" system of the Church of Scientology.
Over the past couple of decades Americans have become more aware of this controversial religion primarily because of the involvement of prominent Hollywood celebrities including Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Priscilla Presley and a host of others. So what is Scientology and what should Christians think about it?
Adams, the Church of Scientology International spokesman, estimates there are millions of Scientologists worldwide, though he couldn't be more specific on the number, and about a million in the U.S.
He said total assets and property holdings of the Church of Scientology internationally have doubled since 2004.
About 1,600 people attended the grand opening of the Queen Anne headquarters, the church said, though not all were members and some were from out of state.
Toxins are stored in the body's fatty tissue, where they are excreted by sweating, explained Dr. George Yu, a surgeon and professor at George Washington University who champions detoxification.
But the treatment has critics who contend it is unproven and lacks necessary medical research. Dr. Frank Fraunfelter, medical director for city and county fire departments, has many reservations.
Cruise has subsequently gone out of his way to atone for each of these undignified episodes. He went back on Oprah's couch and stayed calm; he apologised to Lauer for his 'arrogance'; he mended fences with Shields to the extent that she attended his wedding to Holmes in 2006.
But building bridges with his disaffected fan base - especially his female audience - has not been so easy. According to the E-poll Market Research agency, his favourability percentage has dropped among the American public to 37 per cent from 64 per cent in 2004.
Cook's comments follow a scandal this week in which executive member John Dixon found himself amid a Twitterstorm following comments on the social networking site. Dixon is now facing a disciplinary hearing following a tweet last year which read:
"I didn't know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off."
2010-07-22, Mike Ferriss, Opinion, ABC News (Australia)
Senator Nick Xenophon's back-door approach to bring Scientology under scrutiny through an ill-conceived Tax Amendment Bill on charities has had the effect of alarming religious groups large and small to his unholy crusade. Now they too could be drawn into the strange vortex Xenophon is creating with his call for charities to be measured not only by public benefit (which they currently already are) but also by the criteria of detriment or harm.
John Dixon, a Cardiff councillor, is being investigated for allegedly breaching the code of conduct for local authority members which demands they "show respect and consideration for others".
A complaint was made to the Welsh ombudsman by a member of the Church of Scientology in December last year about comments Mr Dixon made on his Twitter page that June.
There's not much activity visible these days at the downtown St. Paul building owned by the Church of Scientology.
Just a few months ago, the place was buzzing as construction crews got busy converting the former Science Museum of Minnesota into the church's new regional offices.
In a two-part expose, the Times reported more than a dozen women told the newspaper that supervisors in the Sea Organization -- Scientology's 6,000-member, military-like order that runs the religious cult's international operations -- pressured them or other women to abort their unborn children. In a federal suit filed by one of the women, 36 former or current staff members were named as having abortions while working for the Sea Org, as it is commonly known.
The piece (read it here!) is, plainly, retribution for Cooper's CNN reports about Scientology's nefarious goings-on down there in Clearwater; last year the magazine went after the St. Petersburg Times for similar reporting.
Under the heading "Anderson Cooper: A History Of Lies," the church accuses Cooper of ignoring the information it provided him and of refusing to speak with top church officials. It also proclaims Larry King to be the only CNN host qualified to interview Scientology leader David Miscavige, and Cooper of supporting an anti-Scientology group that the church calls a terrorist organization.
Beyond the eighteen separate articles attacking Cooper, his ratings and those of CNN, and the guests he brought on during the week-long series, the church also compiled videos. In one of them, it slams Cooper for what it calls his "fantasies of intrepid reporting":
Agape Ministries International was granted charity organisation tax breaks from July 2000 by the Tax Office.
It was stripped of the status last month after police raided its properties around Adelaide and seized 15 allegedly illegal firearms and other weapons.
Are there any groups you won't go after? We haven't tackled Scientology because Showtime doesn't want us to. Maybe they have deals with individual Scientologists—I'm not sure. And we haven't tackled Islam because we have families.
The public image of the Church of Scientology is family-friendly. But inside the organization's 6,000-member work force called the Sea Org, young women who became pregnant faced a barrage of tactics clearly designed to weaken their resistance to abortion. These women were victims, swayed by an organization that already controlled their lives and in effect denied them free will to make their own decisions about their pregnancies.
This past Sunday and Monday the Times published a two-part series on forced abortions in the Sea Organization of Scientology, which included video testimony. Catholic Online reported on these very disturbing allegations last fall in the article "Scientology Religious 'Order' called 'Sea Orgs' Forced Abortions on Members."
Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs, the Time's writers who presented the six-part series last year, have again put together a report that indicates abortion, along with additional physical and mental abuse; have been used over a long period of time.
After Hagemo reported her pregnancy to a supervisor, two girls who looked 14 or 15 came to her office. They were "messengers'' from upper management, senior officers held in high esteem.
They told her that by getting pregnant she was letting down L. Ron Hubbard, the Sea Org and all mankind. The "greatest good" would be to keep working for Scientology. Hagemo said they told her it was "just a fetus ... just cells'' growing inside her.
"I don't recall them saying, 'You need to get an abortion.' It was just: Abortion is very much an option ... You'd be proving your loyalty to the Sea Org."
The St. Petersburg Times reports that two former members of the Church of Scientology???s elite Sea Organization leadership group have filed lawsuits in federal court, alleging that the church violated labor laws and forced them to abort two children.
Claire and Marc Headley filed separate actions in January 2009. In addition to the abortions, the Headleys allege that the Church created a working environment that constituted forced labor and violated human trafficking laws.
2010-06-13, Sam Deeks, UK online reputation management
By the time you've read the hotel's own disconcerting copy on its website and the TripAdvisor and Holiday Watchdog reviews it's hard not to start to feel uneasy about the connection between the owners of this hotel and the 'Church of Scientology'.
A quick standard Google search for "Camelot Castle Hotel" reveals (as you'd expect) a P1 of Google stuffed full of neutral references (apart from this lone article now). These include the hotel's own website plus a range of other tourism directory listings. Nothing unusual there. In fact, almost nothing on the first 5 or 6 pages cause concern. Except this one listing on P2 beginning: "It takes a lot to freak me…" [update: this has since changed considerably]
But search for "Camelot Castle Hotel scientology" or "camelot castle scientology" and things will get much more interesting. Very quickly, you'll find yourself encountering owner John Mappin, his Khazakh wife Irina and artist Ted Stourton. A little more research on all three gets even more interesting - not least Mappin's short career as 'porn film' actor and his defeat in the High Court in a sordid fraud case. But these things are really only the beginning.
That said, the Church does not advocate abortion to church staff or parishioners. Anyone claiming to have done so on behalf of the Church, or alleging they did so in conformance with some alleged policy (written or "unwritten") is either lying or did so in contravention of the Church's view on the matter. At no time has any church staff member been "forced" to obtain an abortion. . . .
Individuals who join the Sea Org and later determine they want to have children, may then leave the Sea Org. They receive assistance from the Church, including immediate prenatal care, medical care, financial assistance. . . .
A St. Petersburg Times investigation found their experiences were not unique. More than a dozen women said the culture in the Sea Org pushed them or women they knew to have abortions, in many cases, abortions they did not want.
Some said colleagues and supervisors pressured them to abort their pregnancies and remain productive workers without the distraction of raising children. Terminating a pregnancy and staying on the job affirmed one's commitment to the all-important work of saving the planet.
SCIENTOLOGISTS are planning to spend £2.5million on renovating the Royal Fleet Hotel and employ 150 staff to run it.
In a detailed interview with The Herald, Church of Scientology members also said they expected 'tens of thousands' of people to visit the Devonport site each and every year.
It follows news earlier this month that the church had bought the historic 110-year-old Morice Square site for £1million.
Community affairs director Gwen Barnard said the 12-story Stevens Building at 812 S.W. Washington Street, which the church bought in 2008, lacks the open space needed for a chapel and architects couldn't make it work.
The church purchased the 6-story Sherlock Building at 320 S.W. Oak Street for $6.4 million from the Urban Renaissance Group, an investment partnership based in Seattle. Office space on floors two through six were occupied by ZGF Architects until last summer.
* 1968 - Davis travels to England and works for the Church of Scientology in London at the behest of Manson. He is expelled from the group for drug use and returns to the Family, now encamped at the Spahn Ranch near Los Angeles.
The death of a 10-year-old Haitian earthquake survivor who recently fell off the roof of her Scientologist sponsor's home has been ruled an accident, a two-week investigation by Clearwater police detectives has found.
According to Headley and other former Sea Orgs that spoke to the Weekly, workers inside Golden Era can't come and go freely from the property. All incoming mail, phone calls and personal contact are screened by security. At a media press conference in Hollywood on February 12, 2010, Headley described horrendous beatings of people like himself, who at one time was allegedly punched repeatedly by Miscavige during an argument in 2004.
However, reports from current Sea Org members at Golden Era paint an entirely different picture of life on the compound.
Fraser gave the Weekly pages of written comments from current Golden Era Sea Org members. They supposedly give an insider's perspective on life at Golden Era. However, they weren't permitted to speak in person or on the phone to the Weekly.
Though she never presented a bill, Angle did attempt to organize a legislative trip to see the inmate treatment program at a Mexican jail. She made the proposal after visiting the facility with a former corrections department director. The legislative trip would have been arranged and paid for by a member of the Church of Scientology, and critics say the program is modeled on the faith's teachings.
Angle lobbied Gov. Kenny Guinn to support the program, Guinn confirmed Monday.
Further allegations against the Church of Scientology, including claims of child sex abuse and neglect, have renewed calls for an inquiry into the organisation and its operations in Australia.
The allegations, accusing the church of cover-ups and the mistreatment of children in a toxic environment, follow earlier, alarming investigations and a failed bid for a Senate probe.
Among those making the new allegations is the daughter of the president of the church in Australia, and police are investigating a claim a senior official interfered with an investigation into the reported sexual abuse of an 11-year-old girl.
Police are investigating claims Jan Eastgate told both mother and daughter to lie to police and community services about the abuse.
The Church of Scientology is vigorously denying accusations a senior figure in the organisation tried to cover up the sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl in Sydney.
Italian police reportedly unearthed hidden dossiers on 'enemies' during a raid on Church of Scientology offices in Turin.
The files, apparently discovered behind locked doors in a basement office, allegedly contained personal information on judges, police officers and journalists identified as hostile to the Church.
Details on former Church members who have turned against Scientology were also reportedly recovered from handwritten files and computer records seized following a nine-hour search of the premises. No arrests took place, UPI adds.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Carmen Rainer says she was sexually abused by her stepfather Robert Kerr over several years when she was a child.
Her mother Phoebe didn't want to seek outside help, and instead took Carmen to see their chaplain within the church.
CARMEN RAINER: They told me that it was my fault because I'd been bad in a past life. I'd probably done something bad in a past life so I pulled it in.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Carmen Rainer says she was told to hide her story by a senior church member.
Italian police who raided a Scientology chapter said they found what appeared to be extensive files on law-enforcement officials and former members.
The documents were in a locked room of the Scientology chapter in Turin and were said to contain information on the subjects' health, politics and sexual habits, the ANSA news agency said Thursday.
During a nine-hour search of the offices, Carabinieri officers are said to have discovered a cache of files hidden in a basement behind a locked door.
The files allegedly contained personal information relating to judges, magistrates, journalists and police who had reportedly been deemed hostile to the US-based Church of Scientology, Italian media reported.
A SENIOR Scientologist has been accused of covering up a case of sexual abuse by telling the young victim to lie to the police.
Carmen Rainer says she was coached by Jan Eastgate after revealing she'd been abused by her stepfather when aged between seven and 11-years-old.
At the time, Ms Eastgate was head of the Australian wing of a Scientology commission which campaigns against psychiatry.
Scarlett Hanna, whose mother Vicki Dunstan is the president of the Church of Scientology in Australia, said she wanted the church to "take accountability" and apologise to those who were victims of its abuse.
In an interview with the ABC's Lateline, aired last night, Ms Hanna alleged children, including herself, who were born to members of the sea org -- Scientology's elite unit -- were deprived of contact with their parents, given a lack of medical attention and forced to live in cramped conditions. "It was an incredibly lonely childhood." Ms Hanna said.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Scarlet Hanna's parents are both senior members of the Scientology's Australian branch and part of an elite unit known as Sea Org.
Many children of Sea Org members grew up in what's known as Cadet Org.
SCARLET HANNA: The best way I can describe it is cattle. We were property of the organisation although they would like to say that we weren't, we were.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Scarlett Hanna says Cadet Org children lived in separate homes in overcrowded conditions without adequate food or medical care and were granted only 20 minutes each night with their parents.
At the age of 13 she was kicked out of the Cadet Org and sent to live with adults from the Sea Org in an inner Sydney home.
A passenger on the plane that crashed into a Clearwater home Sunday remained in the hospital with multiple injuries Monday but is showing signs of improvement.
Charles Uslander, 54, of 2076 Sunset Point Road, was rushed to Bayfront Medical Center on Sunday in critical condition after the single-engine Piper crashed at 305 Patricia Ave. shortly after takeoff from Clearwater Airpark. The plane also struck two trees and a utility pole.
The night ended in Tintagel, a part of Cornwall, England, in a hotel called Camelot Castle. It also, however, seemed to be an unofficial haven for Scientologists. Throughout the night we gazed around at an overabundance of art on the walls as well as various photos of celebrity Scientologists such as Tom Cruise.After browsing every strange nook, the class had its own reading session, where students and professors alike shared stories, poems and raps before collapsing into bed for the night.
Ever since I penned Hollywood Undercover, going undercover as a gay actor in Scientology and Hollywood, Tom Cruise's house of confession has received a barrage of negative publicity. Former high-ranking Hubbard worshipper Mark Rathburn says Scientologists poked fun at Tom's confessions while getting hammered at late night parties.
INDEPENDENT senator Nick Xenophon has vowed not to give up on his quest to bring the controversial Church of Scientology to book.
He failed in a bid to have Parliament approve a public benefit test to assess the aims and activities of entities receiving tax exemptions.
In a brief interview with the St. Petersburg Times late Monday, Mike Campbell would not discuss the April 29 fall or provide details about Anais and her siblings. He said he was "bound by the father's wishes to respect their privacy."
An assault against a masked demonstrator protesting against the Church of Scientology has landed a Halifax woman in legal trouble.
Nicole Cassandra Andersen, a 40-year-old personal-care worker, pleaded guilty in Halifax on Tuesday to assault for punching the protester in the face near the Scientology Life Improvement Center on Dutch Village Road on Sept. 19.
The Church of Scientology is bringing down the hammer on a renegade member who alleges leader David Miscavige loves to gossip about his star parishioners.
Former high-ranking member Amy Scobee claims in her just-out book, "Scientology: Abuse at the Top," that Miscavige and other officials "snooped" in confidential confessional files - a charge vehemently denied by the church, whose believers include Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, John Travolta, Kelly Preston and Kirstie Alley.
Scobee writes that she was in the office of top exec Marc Yager when Miscavige called to brief him on "the latest" about "a female celebrity connected with Michael Jackson."
Rinder was standing near his car, chatting on his cell phone, he said, when he noticed all seven marching toward him, loudly chastising him and hurling profanities.
He said they took the keys from his ignition and tried to hold his car door closed as he struggled to get out. Three followed him into the office of Holly Johantgen, a doctor of oriental medicine who was treating Rinder's girlfriend with acupuncture.
Johantgen said the three pushed past her as she let Rinder into the office. She told them to leave and tried to close her office door but was ignored.
"You wouldn't have expected to hear these things coming out of their mouths," Johantgen said, noting that all seven were middle-aged and dressed in business attire. "It was just so aggressive, very much in-your-face, arms in the air, like 'F -- - you' … It was surreal. Unbelievable."
Inside Scientology, superstar Tom Cruise is regarded as its most dedicated follower. The mystery is why he never joined its most elite unit.
Now, a former top-ranking defector who was just a teenager when recruited into Scientology says she knows why.
Amy Scobee claims she knows the truth about how the cult controls celebrities, the way it handled Tom Cruise's marriage to Nicole Kidman and tells eyewitness accounts of what happens when its leader loses it.
She began life and work in the organisation's elite unit, called the Sea Org. It was there she met some of their brightest stars and learned some of their darkest secrets.
Archbishop Rivas' homily addresses three subjects of concern: the current drought in St. Lucia, the aftermath of the earthquakes in Haiti; and the subversion of St. Lucia by Scientology. Dialogue Ireland has received the complete text of the homily, and we print below the concluding section, which deals with Scientology..
2010-04-08, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
It's really no wonder why Xenophon zeroed in on Saxton's story among the many he heard from numerous ex-Scientologists. We wanted to hear, for example, more about the abuse he witnessed of a woman when she freaked out during the teaching of Hubbard's "tech."
"Bettina Lockland was her name. This was in Australia. I was 16 at the time, and I was in charge of security [at an "Advanced Org" or "AO," a sort of diocesan office]. Bettina was doing the famous OTIII."
The Church of Scientology has ambitious plans for growing in the Twin Cities area, hoping to double or even triple the number of Twin Cities adherents in the next five years.
As part of those plans, Scientology members dug deep and came up with $3 million to convert the old Science Museum of Minnesota, 505 N. Wabasha St., into a new regional headquarters.
A federal judge dismissed part of a lawsuit brought against the Church of Scientology by a woman who alleged she worked 100-hour weeks for almost no pay for years while a member of Scientology's elite inner corps. U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer issued a written order that dismissed the wage claims portion of Claire Headley's lawsuit. He did not address allegations the church coerces members of the inner corps to get abortions and engages in forced labor. The church denies all the allegations.
2010-04-05, Bart B. Van Bockstaele, Digital Journal
5. For the group that most ardently refuses to face reality.
And the category 5 award goes to Scientology because their OT levels IX, X and XI do not exist and because of the unsavoury stories that have come up lately about them, such as stories of alleged penal colonies, covered-up rapes, coerced abortions, slave labor, and savage abuse at the hands of David Miscavige.
2010-04-05, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
How's this for a time-release bomb? Jason (My Name Is Earl) Lee divorced actress Carmen Llywellyn in 2001, but only now is she coming forward with some fairly entertaining dirt about Lee, a Scientologist, and his celebrity Scientologist friends.
Carmen Llewellyn says Scientology "ruined my life and my career. I ended up addicted to painkillers." She blames Scientology for Tom Cruise's divorce from "Suppressive Person" Nicole Kidman and says the Travoltas hid their son Jett from the church.
Damian DeWitt, the pseudonym of one of the supporters of the anti-Scientology group "Anonymous", has just sent the following letter to Cardinal Oswald Gracias. Quite how His Eminence or the civil authorities are supposed to stop followers of Hubbard from flooding Mumbai with their material is unclear. But I think you'll be interested in the contents of the letter, and in particular the claim that Scientologists exploited 9/11. Here it is:
A German TV-movie about Scientology that claims to reveal the dark side of the organization was a huge ratings hit for public broadcaster ARD, with 8.7 million viewers tuning in Wednesday night, a 27% market share.
Headley, who has written a book about his experiences, said during a phone interview that he endured 24-hour surveillance, roll call three times a day and censored mail. Sleeping quarters were watched at night, floodlights illuminated the campuses and escape routes were blocked during security drills. The church denies that, saying Sea Org members are free to come and go as they please.
"These folks are working for a year or two or three in a row on an hour or two of sleep a night," the couple's attorney Barry Van Sickle said. "They're zombies. If people had some money in their pockets or a good night's sleep, they probably wouldn't stick around."
Creepy Scientology spokesperson Tommy Davis, as is his habit, was outraged and denied the allegations vehemently. "We're kind of sick of people who think that they can do this with us, people who used to work here, who can leave, who are lying - and we know they're lying. It's a pretty nice place to live and work, and we feel that way."
It's weird how many 'liars' come out of Scientology saying very similar bad stuff about the 'church'. Maybe they all collude?
2010-03-26, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
He understands the point I made yesterday -- that it irks me when Anderson Cooper announces that he's holding one hand behind his back as he goes into a boxing match with Scientology. Cooper said that while his special series looks at allegations of violence by Scientology's supreme leader, David Miscavige, he wouldn't be looking at the beliefs of Scientologists themselves.
I called that a big, fat mistake, and in the comments to the post, I added that it would be like doing a story revealing that John Gotti beat up his lieutenants, without mentioning that they were part of something called a mafia that extorted people.
At least $390,000 in state money has been spent on the detoxification program since 2007, though no money was appropriated in the state legislative session that ended this month. The recent earmark was requested by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who has been the most vocal public official supporting the project. The earmark was sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop and both Utah senators.
Shurtleff earlier this month said he plans to try to raise more money -- both public and private -- to expand the program. That irks some toxicologists who argue the treatment does not do what it claims: remove toxins from the body.
"If taxpayers' money were used for this, then this is even more preposterous than the bridge to nowhere," said Utah State University toxicology professor Roger Coulombe, referring to a partially-built Alaskan bridge.
Because of scenes like this that Scientologists believe depict their religion in a frightening way, the group is not the least bit happy about the film, which airs on Germany's ARD public-television network on March 31. In fact, Scientologists claim they are the victims of a "hate campaign" being propagated by the movement's critics. But Carl Bergengruen, the head of drama at a public broadcaster in southwest Germany who was instrumental in getting the movie made, insists that the filmmakers did not set out to vilify Scientology but to show how people can be drawn to "promises of salvation."
In a special series beginning Monday, March 29th, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360° takes a close and revealing look at the leadership of the worldwide church of Scientology. The week-long series, Scientology: A History of Violence, will examine allegations that Scientology leader David Miscavige has for years beaten, kicked and choked top members of the church. These are allegations the church aggressively denies, saying violence from inside came from those making the claim.
Scientology missionaries set sail from Miami to Haiti today. They boarded a former US coast guard ship packed with 175 tons of supplies, including an ambulance, school bus, and 60 tons of wood pellets and several wood burning stoves donated by the wife of the Haitian ambassador to the US.
In addition to the medical supplies, 12 Scientology volunteer ministers went down on the ship, to join the existing 61 Scientology volunteer ministers already in Haiti.
Avortements forcés, voies de fait, emprisonnement, torture, abus sexuels, malversations, chantage: l'Église de scientologie a été accusée d'avoir commis tous ces crimes ces derniers mois, alors que les dénonciations d'ex-scientologues se multipliaient dans le monde.
Depuis qu'il est sorti de Narconon, David Edgar Love dort à peine. Il a des flash-backs des expériences traumatisantes qu'il dit avoir vécues dans ce centre de désintoxication scientologue de Trois-Rivières et, parfois, il devient tellement angoissé qu'il en perd le souffle.
En novembre, un médecin de la Cité-de-la-Santé de Laval lui a diagnostiqué un syndrome de stress post-traumatique. M. Love consulte maintenant un psychiatre dans un hôpital montréalais qui lui a été recommandé par Mike Kropveld, le directeur d'Info-Secte, et il essaie de ne pas avoir l'air trop somnolent à son nouveau travail.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon is confident there will be a parliamentary inquiry into the Church of Scientology.
The Senate has twice rejected his calls to launch an inquiry into the organisation, which has been the subject of claims of abuse, including coerced abortions and workplace law breaches.
For the past half-decade, Scientology has responded to withering attacks with a variety of aggressive and secretive tactics, drawing comparisons to the CIA and FBI. After a recent report alleging the use of violence, however, the church has responded by hiring an 'independent' panel of editors and journalists to produce a 20-page assessment of the report.
The Guardian is reporting on the strained relationship that Scientology is having with the German government and the airing of a pesky documentary on Southwest Broadcasting. Until Nothing Remains, a $2.3 million documentary, is slotted to air on German television at the end of this month. It recounts the true story of Heiner von Rönn and his family's suffering when he tried to leave the Church of Scientology. A Scientology spokesperson called the film false and intolerant and also said they are investigating legal means to stop the film from being aired.
Crusading Senator Nick Xenophon has continued to pressure the Government to crack down on The Church of Scientology, addressing an anti-cult conference in Brisbane today.
Speaking at the the Cult Information and Family Support Group Queensland Conference, Senator Xenophon slammed the Government and the Opposition for their cowardice in not supporting his motion to launch an inquiry into The Church of Scientology and its tax free status.
The statement would become part of a wrongful death suit filed in 2008 against the Bells as well as the drug treatment program George Bell III attended before the murder. The suit seeks the maximum amount of compensation and punitive damages allowed under Mississippi law.
George Bell III killed Spencer, his 28-year-old ex-girlfriend, in his mother's home between Sept. 10 and 11, 2007, just days after leaving the Narconon Arrowhead drug rehabilitation center in Canadian, Okla. He then kidnapped Spencer's roommate at gunpoint and took her to a house on Trawick Drive in northeast Jackson.
Scientology leaders have claimed the film is a piece of propaganda by Germany's state broadcaster and have demanded to see it before it is aired, the Guardian reports.
Scientology officials have said the film is incorrect and are investigating legal means to prevent the programme from being broadcast Jürg Stettler, a spokesman for Scientology in Germany said: "The truth is precisely the opposite of that which the ARD is showing." Mr Stettler said the organisation was planning its own film to "spread our own side of the story".
Volker Herres, ARD's programme director, has dismissed the accusations, saying the aim of the drama is to reveal the truth about the organisation.
A former Scientologist who says she was a "child slave" and alleges she saw a six-year-old boy chained up in a ship's hold is disappointed the Senate has blocked a full inquiry into the religious organisation.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has been calling for a full inquiry into the church since revealing claims of forced abortions and other abuses in Parliament last year.
Keryn, 54, grew up in the church and has asked the ABC to identify her only by her first name.
She says she was a victim of "hard labour, mental brutality and separation" on Scientology ships, which were used for the Church's elite band of followers in the 1960s to 1970s. She is angry the motion for a Scientology probe has been blocked in Parliament.
A former Scientologist who says she was a "child slave" and alleges she saw a six-year-old boy chained up in a ship's hold is disappointed the Senate has blocked a full inquiry into the religious organisation.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has been calling for a full inquiry into the church since revealing claims of forced abortions and other abuses in Parliament last year.
Keryn, 54, grew up in the church and has asked the ABC to identify her only by her first name.
She says she was a victim of "hard labour, mental brutality and separation" on Scientology ships, which were used for the Church's elite band of followers in the 1960s to 1970s. She is angry the motion for a Scientology probe has been blocked in Parliament.
Nevertheless history shows he well knows the treachery of Australian politicians. In 1965 a Victorian Coalition government banned Scientology. South Australia and Western Australia followed suit but 18 years later the High Court's Church of the New Faith v Victorian Commissioner of Payroll Tax ruling exempted Lafayette Ron's organisation from paying tax.
Now Scientology has emerged victorious in its second confrontation with an Australian parliament when the holy trinity in the Senate united to defeat Nick Xenophon's attempt to have the tax-free status of religious and charitable groups investigated by politicians.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon has vowed to continue his efforts to investigate the Church of Scientology after a motion for a Senate inquiry failed yesterday.
The federal government and the opposition declined to support yesterday's motion that would have triggered an inquiry into the tax status of religious organisations.
Senator Xenophon blasted the decision, calling the opposition ''pathetic''. ''There is a certain cowardice in turning your back on people who need help,'' he said during an occasionally fiery debate.
Australia's ruling Labor party and the coalition have been accused of walking away from claims of abuse in the Church of Scientology, by blocking a Senate investigation into the tax-free status of religious groups.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon on Thursday failed to win sufficient support for an inquiry into whether church groups should be subjected to a public benefit test, like that in the UK.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has slammed the major parties for blocking his moves for an inquiry into the Church of Scientology.
Senator Xenophon has been calling for a full inquiry into the church since revealing claims of forced abortions and other abuses in Parliament last year.
Today he accused Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of hiding behind process and vowed to continue to fight for further examination of Scientology in Australia.
According to the makers of Until Nothing Remains, the €2.5m (£2.3 m) drama, which is due to air in a prime-time slot at the end of March, is based on the true story of Heiner von Rönns, who left Scientology and suffered the subsequent break-up of his family.
Scientology officials have said the film is false and intolerant. At a preview screening in Hamburg members distributed flyers in which the filmmakers were accused of seeking to "create a mood of intolerance and discrimination against a religious community".
LABOR and the Coalition have been accused of choosing to look away from claims of abuse in the Church of Scientology, by blocking a Senate investigation into the tax-free status of religious groups.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon today failed to win enough support for an inquiry into whether church groups should be subjected to a public benefit test, like that in Britain.
2010-03-08, Quentin McDermott, Four Corners, ABC News (Australia)
Some of them describe the separation from relatives that occurs when they were expelled from the Church. They also describe how they worked long hours, for little pay. Others claim they were pressured into having abortions, because of a policy that forbids the raising of children within the unit. Some of these men and women are now taking the church to court in the United States over claims involving this type of treatment. The Church is contesting the court actions.
2010-03-08, Quentin McDermott, Four Corners, ABC News (Australia)
Read part one of the transcript of Quentin McDermott's interview with Tommy Davis, Church of Scientology Spokesperson. NB: For legal and editorial purposes, this transcript has been edited.
Q. …and let me ask you this. Why do you punish people so severely inside the Sea Org?
A. Ah we do not punish people ah er er that's, that's ridiculous [laughs], that's a ridiculous question [laughs].
Q. Why is that a ridiculous question?
A. Um well (A) because you're saying it as if it occurs and ah and most certainly does not and if you have a specific allegation or something of which you are referring to that's actually specific and who it's from, I'd be happy to deal with that.
2010-03-08, Quentin McDermott, Four Corners, ABC News (Australia)
Read part two of the transcript of Quentin McDermott's interview with Tommy Davis, Church of Scientology Spokesperson. NB: For legal and editorial purposes, this transcript has been edited.
Q. There are many accounts, many allegations of the church spying on people. Do you spy on former members of the church?
A. No the church doesn't go about spying on anybody.
Q. Do you, do you send people to go and talk to them? Do you…
A. . . .I I I'd have to have some [inaudible]…
Q. …do you follow them in their cars?
A. Um no the church does not follow people in their cars. Ah but you asked me if we send people to talk to them. I don't know who are you speaking, is there a specific there or something you can tell me about that?
Fifty-six years after its founding by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986, the church is fighting off calls by former members for a Reformation. The defectors say Sea Org members were repeatedly beaten by the church's chairman, David Miscavige, often during planning meetings; pressured to have abortions; forced to work without sleep on little pay; and held incommunicado if they wanted to leave. The church says the defectors are lying.
2010-03-06, Laurie Goodstein, New York Times, Seattle Times
Fifty-six years after its founding by the science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986, the church is fighting off calls by former members for a Reformation. The defectors say Sea Org members were repeatedly beaten by the church's chairman, David Miscavige, often during planning meetings; pressured to have abortions; forced to work without sleep on little pay; and held incommunicado if they wanted to leave. The church says the defectors are lying.
"In a lot of cases, those who escape are intimidated and harassed so much they wouldn't dare speak to the media about what goes on," Headley said. "Finally, in the past year, more and more people have had enough courage to say what happened to them. They're not afraid to back down from intimidation."
But the reason they are at war is an economic one. Anderson said that he prepaid for about $120,000 of religious services that he never received and doesn't want. He wants his donations back.
Scientology actually has two written refund policies. If you pay for a service and are dissatisfied, you can request a refund within 90 days. These refunds would be discretionary (presumably like they are at Macy's, when it appears that you wore the prom dress and spilled soda on it, before claiming it didn't fit).
But if you prepay for services and don't receive them, you are supposed to be able to claim a refund at any time, Anderson said.
Scientology spokesperson Tommy Davis stated Scientology plans additional investigative inquires into what they perceive as "naked bias" by the SPTimes, but refused to say if they would make the most recent report public.
Again, SPT's Neil Brown doesn't seem phased, "I counted up something like six or seven journalists the church has hired to look into the St. Petersburg Times," Brown says. "I've just got two looking into the Church of Scientology."
Citing numerous texts including the Quran, Bible and a book by Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard, Farrakhan expressed concern for President Barack Obama's life, called for the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the former Haitian president now in exile, and described a spiritual experience in 1981 in which he ascended into a flying saucer and heard the voice of Elijah Muhammad predicting historical events that did come to pass.
What wasn't known at the time, but can now be revealed, was that the woman making the allegations belonged to Kenja, a self-empowerment group that many consider to be a cult, against which Mutch had been speaking out in Parliament for some time.
Though the allegations were ultimately dismissed, they changed the course of Mutch's life, and, together with testimony from former Kenja members, provide a chilling insight into the extraordinary lengths to which the group will go to defend itself.
The reporters in the project were Russell Carollo, who won a Pulitzer for investigative journalism at Dayton's Daily News in 1998, and Christopher Szechenyi, formerly a producer at 60 Minutes. The product's editor was Steve Weinberg, former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a longtime faculty member of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Weinberg told Kurtz he was paid $5,000 for his work, which was "kind of like editing a Columbia Journalism Review piece." The project was an "unusual situation" and "certainly [not] something just any reporter would do." But "my role was more limited, and I can certainly use the money these days." He said the Scientologists can put the report "in a drawer" if they wish, but if they publish it they must publish it in full.
The Washington Post presented the latest evidence today that journalists are hard-up for jobs and cash: Three respected investigative reporters have sold their services to the Church of Scientology to pick apart the St. Petersburg Times' series of scathing investigative stories in 2009 about the church detractors call a criminal cult.
After decades of digging into the Church of Scientology, reporters and editors at the St. Petersburg Times are accustomed to being denounced by its leaders.
But they find it unsettling that three veteran journalists -- a Pulitzer Prize winner, a former "60 Minutes" producer, and the former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors -- are taking the church's money to examine the paper's conduct.