A.r.s Week in Review - 5/12/2002
Week in Review Volume 7, Issue 6
5/12/2002 by Rod Keller [rkeller@...]
Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review summarizes the most significant
postings from the Usenet group Alt.religion.scientology for the preceding
week for the benefit of those who can't follow the group as closely as
they'd like. Out of thousands of postings, I attempt to include news of
significant events, new affidavits, court rulings, new contributors,
whatever. I hope you find it useful. Like many readers of a.r.s, I have a
kill file. So please take into consideration that I may not have seen some
of the most significant postings.
The articles in A.r.s Week in Review are brief summaries of articles
posted to the newsgroup. They include message IDs for the original
articles, and many have a URL to get more information. You may be able to
find the original article, depending on how long your site stores articles
in the newsgroup before expiring them.
Free A.r.s Week in Review subscriptions are available. Subscriptions are
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> Vickie FordVickie Ford placed an ad in the May 6th issue of U.S. News and World
Report to publicize how Scientology has separated her family.
"The ad says on top: OUR FAMILY Below that it has a picture of Vickie,
David and their son. Below the picture it says 'before Scientology.' Then
there is the same picture with the son blocked out. And below it says
> Lawrence WollersheimThe Washington Post reported on May 10th that Scientology has paid
Lawrence Wollersheim for the judgment he was originally awarded in 1986.
"The Church of Scientology never paid - until yesterday, when officials
wrote a check for more than $8.6 million to end the case, one of the
longest-running in California history. 'They stalled it and stalled it and
stalled it,' said Wollersheim, 53, now of Nevada. He called his victory a
landmark for former members of the church, which is known for heated and
protracted legal battles. 'I'm smiling,' he said. 'It's like being the
first plaintiff to get a victory against the cigarette companies.'
"Wollersheim, who ran a small photo business, joined Scientology in 1969
and later became a recruiter. He signed a 'billion-year' contract to serve
the church but says that he ended up being punished in a 'thought reform
gulag,' consigned to the hold of a ship docked off California for 18 hours
a day. The ship was part of a mini-navy assembled by L. Ron Hubbard, the
science fiction writer who created the church in the early 1950s. Because
of Scientology practices, 'Wollersheim's mental condition worsened to the
point he actively contemplated suicide,' a California appeals court said
in 1989. 'The church's conduct was manifestly outrageous.'
"Wollersheim, who suffered from a bipolar disorder, was forbidden to seek
medical help under Scientology policies, he says. He quit the church after
spending $150,000 on Hubbard's 'mental health' regimes, and by 1980 had
filed suit. In 1986, a jury awarded him $5 million in compensatory damages
and $25 million to punish the church for what jurors called intentional
and negligent 'infliction of emotional distress.' The total was reduced on
appeal to $2.5 million. But Scientology officials vowed they would pay
'not one thin dime for Wollersheim,' and members were rallied to chant
that slogan at hearings.
"Church attorney William Drescher yesterday blamed Wollersheim in part for
the long delay in resolving the case. 'From what I understand, Wollersheim
didn't make any effort to collect [the judgment] for 11 years,' he said.
"But attorneys for Wollersheim said the church evaded payment by setting
up corporate shells and employing endless hardball legal tactics, based on
Hubbard policies that aim to ruin ex-members who sue the church.
'Twenty-two years is extraordinary,' attorney Ford Greene said."
From the Associated Press on May 11th:
"Church officials on Thursday handed over a check for $8,674,843 to Los
Angeles County Superior Court, saying they wanted to put the matter behind
them. 'This lawsuit was over 20 years old and concerned events from 30
years ago,' Neil Levin, president of the Church of Scientology of
California, said in a statement.
"Wollersheim, who lives in Nevada, joined the church in 1969. 'Everything
hasn't had a chance to set in, except that this is a great victory for
social justice,' he said by phone Friday.
"According to his lawsuit, at one point he was held on a ship for 18 hours
a day, deprived of food and sleep. He said it was a mind control tactic
that caused him to develop bipolar disorder. 'The counseling techniques
are designed to either break you or make you a slave,' said Wollersheim,
53. 'I was on the edge of insanity.'"
From the Los Angeles Times on May 11th:
"The payment came nearly 22 years after Lawrence Wollersheim, 53, filed
his 1980 lawsuit, and nearly 16 years after a California jury awarded him
$30 million. In the intervening years, the award was reduced on appeal to
$2.5 million and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was
upheld in 1994. Meanwhile, the $2.5 million collected 10% interest and
eventually grew to $8,674,843, which was deposited Thursday with the Los
Angeles County Superior Court.
"'This is an absolute watershed,' said Arnie Lerma, 52, an
ex-Scientologist who manages a Web site devoted to critiquing the
religion. Lerma said he hopes the award will convince other
ex-Scientologists to file their own lawsuits.
"On his Web site, www.factnet.org, Wollersheim issued a statement: 'The
cult that vowed it would never pay me one thin dime has now paid over 86
million thin dimes.'"
From Reuters on May 11th:
"'They're facing a cigarette company meltdown,' Lawrence Wollersheim, 53,
told Reuters, referring to the flurry of claims filed against tobacco
companies after the first successful suit brought by a smoker with health
problems. 'This case has broken their litigation machine,' said
Wollersheim, who co-founded the FACTNet.org Web site devoted to
disseminating information about cults and groups accused of mind control.
'I'm extremely happy to end such horrible litigation.'
"Linda Simmons Hight, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles-based Church of
Scientology International, the Los parent of affiliate organizations
worldwide, said church officials believed it to be the first payment of a
judgment, at least in the last 20 years.
"Hight dismissed Wollersheim's charges that the church abused members and
stonewalled on paying the judgment. 'That's so outrageous and insulting
that I don't want to respond to that,' she said. 'I don't want to respond
to his ramblings.' Hight could not say how many lawsuits had been filed
against the church by former members or if there had been any settlements.
'This is the last piece of litigation,' she said."
> Oxford Capacity AnalysisThe Orlando Sentinel reported on May 8th that a podiatrist is using
Scientology's personality test to screen job applicants.
"Renee Zines was stunned when her interviewer at the podiatrists' office
also handed her a 200-question personality test. Some of the questions
seemed harmless, if goofy, such as: 'Do you often sing or whistle just for
the fun of it?' Others offended the Melbourne woman, such as questions
about her moods, her eating and spending habits, how many friends she has,
whether she likes to gossip or steal things, whether she has pondered
suicide and the number of children she plans to have. Experts say such
tests - or any overly personal questions asked of job applicants - are
rarely appropriate, and they can even be illegal.
"The test that Zines took was the Oxford Capacity Analysis, a
questionnaire created by the Church of Scientology that some employers use
to screen applicants. This and similar tests became common in the early
1990s but have dropped off because of controversy and the tight labor
market. Today, roughly one in five employers still uses them, according to
the Society for Human Resource Management.
"'I felt that I was being violated,' says Zines, 25, now a sales assistant
for a telecommunications firm. 'I thought the questions were really
personal. Those questions have nothing to do with working at a podiatry
"Interview questions are illegal if they seek to classify applicants based
on categories protected under anti-discrimination laws, including race,
national origin, religion, age, disability or marital status."
> Protest SummaryJohn Ritson and Jens Tingleff reported a protest on May 11th in Brighton,
"We were able to launch into the usual round of 'AGAINST the barmy UFO
cult' on the microphone and leafleting and keep it up for about two and a
half hours, by which time the leaflets were all gone. Slightly more
activity from the 'org' this time. One character came outside for a
cigarette, and their obligatory complaint to the police resulted in a
solitary constable arriving, calling the station with a report of the
situation and then shrugging his shoulders and departing, much to the
disappointment of the solitary smoker. And he was certainly solitary for
part of the time as one person arrived and he had to let them in with a
"As were halfway back to the station, two Scientologists we had not seen
before came racing uphill after us to claim that we had been such a help
to them that some students had signed up for extra courses. We told them
that we loved coming back to Brighton to help them out, but it was
difficult to justify the effort for such a downstat 'org.' Their extremely
late arrival makes it likely that they were ordered in from Saint Hill or
from their homes and needed to make contact with us to claim to have
'confronted' the 'evil suppressives.'"
"John R did his usual fantastic job on the microphone, 'protest AGAINST
$cientology' loudly enough to make everyone notice. A few people did not
notice that we were protesting against the criminal organisation known as
the 'church' <spit> of Scientology. These people had simply recognised the
bad vibes surrounding anything to do with $cientology and firmly shut out
anything to do with the CoS.
"Several school-kids (10-13 year olds) came up and asked if they could
have some more Xenu leaflets to hand out to everyone that they knew. I had
to tell them no, since we'd only brought a few leaflets, but also told
them to get copies off the Web (www.xenu.net, of course). We did get two
who were obviously little clams. The two of them stood around, read
leaflets, went away, came back, stood around. Finally, one walked up and
said 'Scientology is real.' I corrected it to 'Scientology is a real
problem.' He non-confronted the Xenu leaflet a bit more, held up a fist
and tried to shout 'Scientology is real' and left."
Arnie Lerma reported a protest on Washington, DC on May 11th.
"I got there about 1:30. I walked around the neighborhood putting 'It's
worse than you think!' posters up around the neighborhood. They have
before and after 17 days of 'care' photos of Lisa McPherson. I put one on
the lamp post on the corner right in front of the org.
"I went out and started picketing alone at about 2PM. Sylvia came out took
a photo, and tried to chat some. I started in on 'If there was just one
OT in scientology, I wouldn't be here.' She walked back to the org,
walking right by the poster on the lamppost, but did not see it. A couple
of times she and other 'OT's walked past it while we picketed.
"Wes Fager showed up. At one point Wes drew a crowd of perhaps 12 people
listening to him. Sylvia tried to interrupt a bit but eventually gave up
as I'd stand behind her and point out the Scientology LIES in RED arrow on
my sign, which said 'Warning, Entering Greedy Cult zone WWW.XENU.NET.' At
one point one of the org member posing as an interested public managed to
grab 15 flyers or so and ran into the org with the fruits of her theft.
They also used 'sprinkler' tech but it did nothing. I asked them if they
were gonna bring out a leaf blower next.
"Because we were on the corner, at break time, 3:30, they put up a sign
that said 'Please use side entrance' facing inwards, on front door. So Wes
and I moved to either side of the driveway where we could ask the handful
of students and staff 'Are there any OT's there? If there were just one OT
in scn we wouldn't be here.' A couple of folks mentioned Wollersheim,
having read it in the Washington Post. Wes and I walked away, smiling,
because the 'It's Worse than you THINK' poster was still on the lamp post
right in front of the org.
Tory Christman reported a protest in Los Angeles on My 11th.
"Today was the Celebration of the anniversary of Dianetics, so a few of us
decided to picket. Many people who usually do were out of town, but we
here decided to go ahead anyway. My sign said: 'Wollersheim is PAID (after
22 years) By Scientology: 8.7 Million Dollars!' and the other side said,
'Scientology Pays Wollersheim 87 Million 'Thin Dimes!'"
"Phantom Picketer joined us, and this was his first picket. Jeff Jacobsen
came, and also a new X-Sea Org member, Dan. We all headed from here to the
Int HGB (Hollywood Guarantee Building). The staff were for the most part
hiding inside the buildings. They snuck things out rapidly into vans for
the event, if we were down the street. Once we'd go back, they'd zoom
everyone back in the building.
"The Scientology Parishioners League arrived, and all huddled at one end
of a block. Jeff Jacobsen had discovered a law re: picketing and blocking
pickets. He said he'd posted it last night, so they were all in different
"We walked back and forth in front of the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition
and passed out flyers on Xenu.net and Scientology in general. One guy rode
by on his bike and whispered to me, 'Keep exposing them.' Many people said
similar things in various different ways. This went on all day.
"We all moved from INT down the block to the 'Testing Center' and picketed
that. Again, they had a few 'OT's' who refused to talk to us at all.
These 'Ots' were out trying to hand out their flyers. Few people would
take them, but many took ours. On to the Shrine. There as we drove by tons
of staff was outside eating dinner. We parked, and walked there with our
signs. As we got there, they'd shuttled all staff inside. God forbid they
might see the truth: LARRY WOLLERSHEIM WAS PAID 8.7 Million Dollars! We
picketed the one side for awhile, and then joined Jeff on the other side.
Jeff had handed OSA the law printed out, so although they had signs to
block ours, they weren't nearly as bad as they have been in the past. Also
funny is their signs saying 'Welcome' and me standing right next to them
with 'Scientology PAYS Wollersheim 8.7 Million Dollars'.
"At the end I stood next to Joel who I had turned the Scientology
Parishioners League over to and said: 'You have your views, and I have
mine. But the big difference is I still like you, and you have to hate my
guts.' I could tell he heard me and he didn't really like that concept."
> In MemoriamThe Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on May 6th that Scientologist
Barbara Schofield has passed away.
"Barbara P. Morris Schofield, 66, died Saturday at a Las Vegas hospital.
She was born July 30, 1935, in Erie, Pa. A retired real estate agent, she
was a member of the Church of Scientology and a 10-year resident of Las
Vegas. She is survived by her sons, Douglas Morris of Sauk Rapids, Minn.,
Thomas Morris of Las Vegas, Theodore Morris of Corona, Calif., and Samuel
Bartelli of Tucson, Ariz.; mother, Marcella Cooper of Las Vegas; six
grandchildren; and a great-grandchild."