A.r.s Week in Review - 4/9/2000
Week in Review Volume 5, Issue 2
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.
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Week in Review is archived at:
> Battlefield EarthBerliner Zeitung reported on the release of Battlefield Earth in an April
"For John Travolta, this film is the fulfillment of a dream long
cherished. 15 years ago, when the Hollywood actor started out to film the
novel, 'Battlefield Earth,' he had wanted to play the young hero, Jonnie
Goodboy Tyler. Now it has taken so long to put it together that he took
over the part of Tyler's aging opponent.
"There is a reason that production has taken so long and that renowned
film studios like MGM, and later 20th Century Fox, first bought the rights
then later gave them up for the book published in 1982: its name is L. Ron
Hubbard and he was the founder of the Scientology sect. Intertainment
chief Ruediger Baeres said that he had hesitated, because of Hubbard, when
the film was first offered as part of a package of 60 productions for
Europe-wide licensing: 'Scientology doesn't make any difference to me.' He
said he only wanted to earn money. His objections had been overcome
because a renowned company had taken over the operation of the film,
Warner (Time Warner) - 'for me that was guarantee enough that the content
was harmless,' said Baeres. The film script based on Hubbard's work was
especially carefully reviewed by Warner. 'We bought a science fiction film
with John Travolta, not a Scientology film,' Baeres defended his
"Within the sect, 'Battlefield Earth' has long been celebrated as a
propaganda coup. 'The parallels between the film and Scientology are
obvious,' said Stacy Brooks, who was part of the organization's top
management in the USA in the 1980s, from Florida. 'It is not coincidence
that the monsters in the film are called 'Psychlos,' of all things,'
Stacey Brooks believes. 'Psychs' is what Hubbard called psychiatrists,
whom he regarded as his most troublesome lifelong adversaries. 'The model
upon which Jonnie Tyler, the film hero, was built is Hubbard himself, who
wanted to save humankind from psychiatry,' said the former member. 'The
story of Battlefield Earth is absolutely ridiculous.' She supposes that
the film will be 'a giant flop.'"
From the Sunday Times on March 8th:
"The anti-Scientology organisation FactNet has accused John Travolta's
forthcoming sci- fi epic, Battlefield Earth, based on a book by L. Ron
Hubbard, the cult's founder, of containing 'subliminal messages'. If
FactNet is to be believed, the Warner Brothers extravaganza and its lavish
marketing campaign are part of a sinister plot to recruit young people to
the religious beliefs shared by Travolta, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and a
growing number of Tinseltowners."
Scientology announced a new electronic edition of Battlefield Earth to
coincide with the release of the new movie.
"L. Ron Hubbard's epic 428,000 word, 1,050-page science fiction adventure
novel, Battlefield Earth will be published in its entirety as a Rocket
eBook, which will be widely available through bn.com and powells.com. A
paperback tie-in movie edition of Battlefield Earth -- with a cover
highlighting Travolta in his role as the alien menace, Terl the Psychlo --
will also be published nationally by Bridge Publications on April 4."
> Mark BunkerMark Bunker had a hearing this week in a criminal case based on his arrest
out side the Chicago org by off-duty police officers.
"I appeared before the judge for another pre-trial hearing over the
charges leveled at me for pointing a camera at Scientology. Once again in
attendance was Elliot Abelson and this time Sylvia Stanard was along from
Washington D.C. I knew she would be there since I had dinner with the
Zizic's the night before and they told me she had come in to settle the
Zizic's claims and was pushing hard to make this happen fast. When we
first heard from the Zizics, they were trying to get $20,000 back for
courses they prepaid but never used. The cult stalled them for two years
before the Zizics made a call to the LMT. From the time of their contact
with the Trust, the Zizics were suddenly being offered that money back if
they signed a waiver. Now, with my arrest and the possibility of sending
me away for 10 - 25 years, the church is pushing even harder to settle
with the Zizics, my only witnesses. Now the church is willing to give back
all the money they defrauded from the Zizics. In this waiver they have to
agree to shut up and not assist anyone with any litigation against
Scientology whether as a plaintiff or as a defendant.
"The prosecutor was outraged by my appearing in Stamford at the Leo J.
Ryan Conference and demanded once again that bail be raised and that I be
restricted in my travel but the judge denied that motion allowing me to
travel freely for my work. The prosecutor also said that they intend to
treat this as a hate crime. If I truly hated Scientologists why would I
give a warm smile and a wave to Sylvia when she entered the courtroom?
The Zizics have assured me that they will be there when needed to testify
on my behalf and I know they will. They are terrific people and it has
been a pleasure getting to know them and their kids."
> CCHRScientology released a press release this week through the Citizens
Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) praising a Colorado legislator for a
bill urging non-drug methods in dealing with school problems.
"In the latest counter against the nation's epidemic of behavioral
psychotropic drugs use on children, Congressman Bob Schaffer (Colorado)
introduced legislation this week to the House of Representatives
encouraging school personnel to use proven academic and/or classroom
management solutions instead of drugs to resolve behavior, attention and
learning problems. Mr. Bruce Wiseman, the U.S. President of CCHR welcomed
Congressman Schaffer's resolution as 'a step towards dismantling the
profitable business of drugging millions of normal children with
mind-altering and often addictive psychiatric drugs, and returning schools
to halls of learning.' Congressman Schaffer cited an 800% increase in the
use of behavioral drugs in children over the past decade and said that
many kids today are 'automatically forced into this drastic measure [of
drug] therapy before more conventional methods have been attempted.'"
> Bulldog Capital ManagementBloomberg news reported on April 7th that) Bulldog Capital Management, a
Scientologist-operated company, has lost most of the money in one fund in
"Bulldog Capital Management LP, a hedge fund group with about $800 million
in assets a week ago, said its $200 million Foxhound Fund 'lost most of
its value' in the gyrating markets earlier this week. The fund, which
borrowed money to bet on both rising and falling shares, was the biggest
publicly known casualty of the roller-coaster equity market. 'This was our
high-octane fund, and navigating in the recent market turbulence was
extremely difficult,' said Ronald Pollack, chairman and chief investment
officer of Bulldog.
"The firm's other major funds, Dancing Bear LP and Bulldog Fund LP are
both down about 9 percent this year. Brandon Marion is a member of the
Church of Scientology. 'I am truly happy, I have a great marriage and a
successful business. Scientology helped me develop my innate abilities to
achieve a happy and well-balanced life,' says Marion on his personal
website, which links to Scientology- related sites. According to Alex
Eckelberry, a managing director at the fund group, the seven-year-old
Bulldog does not manage money for the church, which counts among its
members Isaac Hayes, Anne Archer, John Travolta and Juliette Lewis."
> DenmarkJyllands-Posten reported on April 3rd on Scientology's recruitment methods
and sales techniques, and the implications for recognition of Scientology
as a religion in Denmark.
"Professional Danish sales representatives strongly distance themselves
from the methods employed by Scientology in selling their message. 'It's a
cynical, brutal and hard sales method. They use a technique for asking
questions, that is supposed to steer the customer into a position where he
cannot say no. People are pushed into a corner, and their only way of
getting out is to say 'yes, please'', says Dennis Rasmussen, an advisor
for 'Danske Saelgere' - the organization of professional sales people.
Jyllands-Posten has gotten hold of the course materials used by
Scientology for training its adherents in recruiting new members, and get
them to buy the services of the movement, in the form of books, courses
and so-called spiritual counseling.
"After reviewing the materials, Dennis Rasmussen concludes that the
methods are dishonest and manipulative. 'In professional sales work, one
should play with open cards and be loyal to the customer. In Scientology,
all consideration is put aside in order to sell. They don't care whether
or not the customer at all has the need to buy, not even whether or not he
can afford it. It's just a matter of getting sales, regardless of if the
customer is a drug addict or unemployed. It's very distasteful,' says
Dennis Rasmussen. The controversial course materials is the so-called
'Hard Sell Pack', which is used for sales training in all parts of the
many-branched organization of Scientology.
"'In normal sales work, the customer has the possibility to say no, but
here he doesn't. You keep going and going, until he gives up. You put the
pressure on people, just like in a pyramid scheme', says the former
Scientologist, who wishes to remain anonymous. Hard Sell is a concept
developed by the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, who taught that
the message of the movement should be spread through any means, since the
actual salvation of the world is at stake.
"Scientology has applied to become a recognized religious community in
Denmark, and an answer is expected within a few weeks from the advisory
committee under the Ecclesiastical Ministry. The former sales manager
says, however, that the movement has nothing to do with religion. 'I
thought so at the time, but today I can see that it's nothing but 'cool
business'. For example, if I spoke with a disabled lady, I'd tell her that
her condition probably was caused by something bad that she had done in a
past life. And then I offered her to buy auditing, where she could clean
the bad things out and get better. It's wrong to put pressure on people
who are in a position of weakness,' says the defected scientologist."
Catarina Pamnell reported that this article has had an effect on
"Since this article was published, the CoS has asked for their application
for religious status to be postponed, in order for them to have time 'to
refute the recent media attacks'. The advisory committee has said they
will instead deal with other applications, and Scientology's application
is now 'at the bottom of the drawer.'"
> FinlandHelsingin Sanomat published a review on April 5th of a Swedish film shown
on television about Scientology's treatment of children.
"Finland's Justice department has still not accepted the Finland
Scientology Church's application into the register of religious movements.
A Senior Government secretary who has been preparing the denial decision
says that the 'the main reason for that was that Scientology finds money
grabbing more important than practicing their religion.' Selling complete
mental freedom, the marketing organization has been criticized for selling
courses and equipment to the gullible people who have fallen into their
influence. Purchasing these takes a member's own borrowed or stolen money.
For example, 'equipment that measures states of emotions,' the auditing
meter sells for 18,000 Finnish marks (ca. 3,000 USD). But one can get a
similar electricity meter for 200 FIM (ca. 33 USD) from stores.
"In Lisbeth Lyngsen's shortened Danish documentary Children of
Scientology, one is introduced to the movement's model of raising
children. Scientology's American founder, sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard
says that children are grown-ups who live in small bodies, who should
mainly take care of themselves -- by themselves. In Lyngsen's
documentary, this education method -- to deliberately "leave to one's own
devices" or "abandon" -- is described by former members of the Danish
Scientology movement. For example, the manager of a day care home and a
long time press secretary raised her own daughter until she was a teenager
under Hubbard's teachings. The third interview is with a young woman, who
grew to adulthood in the Scientology model."
> GermanyStern reported on March 31st that Bavaria wants to test Windows 2000
carefully because of a component that was written by a Scientologist-owned
"The Free State of Bavaria will not install the Windows 2000 operating
system from Microsoft until the controversial Scientology Organization's
involvement with the software has been reviewed. The government agencies
will wait until Windows 2000 has been checked out by the Federal Office
for Security in Information Technology (BSI). Microsoft came under
criticism because a portion of the software had been programmed by a
company aligned with Scientology. It is still unclear how the software is
to be checked out. The issue, primarily, is whether the program code,
which is regarded as secret by Microsoft, will have to be revealed to the
BSI. According to Microsoft, the suggestion is currently being examined in
the U.S. company headquarters in Redmond. Microsoft was last quoted as
denying that it intended to reveal the program code to BSI."
Hamburger Morgenpost reported on April 7th that Bob Minton and Stacy
Brooks visited Hamburg officials to discuss Scientology.
"'The purpose of today's event is only to prevent you from finding out
what Scientology really is.' - That was on a leaflet which an ardent
Scientologist distributed in front of the Interior Agency yesterday. He
would not have been pleased with what was going on inside: Scientology's
'Enemy Number 1,' the U.S. American Bob Minton was relating his
experiences in the fight. At his side sat Stacy Brooks, who worked in the
'Sea Org' in the sect's headquarters and then left. The two came to
Hamburg at the invitation of Sect Commissioner Ursula Caberta. What they
had to relate explained why the organization, which wants to much to be a
church, may not be a church.
"Stacy Brooks: 'I supported the the Scientologists' ideas, but I became
skeptical. All at once I was promoted in the 'Sea Org' and was directly
under sect chief David Miscavige. They are a market-oriented corporation
that only wants one thing: to increase money.' Because Brooks did not
carry out orders, she was locked up for nine months without her being
permitted to see her family. The graceful woman continued, 'I was
interrogated without stop and had to run for 12 hours at time in circles.
It was torture to make me 'introverted'.' Bob Minton was never a
Scientologist. He began to get interested in the machinations of the sect
when he read about the Lisa McPherson case on the internet. Scientology
regards Minton as 'Enemy Number One' - its arch-enemy. Minton calls the
Scientology intelligence agency, OSA, a 'paramilitary organized Mafia' and
prophesied, 'If one were to back them into a corner one day, they would
resort to violence. They possess rocket launchers, bazookas, countless
"Bob Minton does not want to demonize the many Scientologists who are
doing volunteer work on the street: 'The are well-meaning people. But
their management in the Sea Org is totalitarian. Their management wants
Die Welt published an article on April 7th on the support the Hamburg org
is receiving from Scientology in the United States.
"With massive financial support and personnel from the USA, the
Scientologists are again increasingly active in Hamburg. It is primarily
the organization's intelligence service, the 'Office of Special Affairs
(OSA)' which has significantly increased its activity in recent times,
reports Ursula Caberta, Director of the Work Group on Scientology in the
Interior Agency. It is reported that organization opponents are being
increasingly spied and eavesdropped upon and harassed. The Scientologists
are also appearing in greater number on the streets, Caberta warned.
"After they have been partly squeezed out of the real estate business, the
Scientologists in Hamburg currently have their sights set on driving
schools, among other things, according to Caberta. There they find young
people who are open-minded to their attempts at infiltration.
"In Hamburg, according to Ursula Caberta, the Scientology Organization is
'practically bankrupt.' After the Scientologists left behind bank rent in
the amount of 1.6 million marks in their move from Steindamm, charges have
been filed for fraudulent bankruptcy.
"Today the power struggle between Caberta and the Scientologists is going
into a decisive round. The Administrative Court must decide whether the
security and technology statement developed by the Hamburg Work Group and
in use all across Germany may continue to be used. By using the form ('I
declare that I do not operate according to the technology of L. Ron
Hubbard'), businesses can obtain information about whether the companies
with which they do business belong to Scientologists. The organization has
sued against the practice, but two applications for temporary orders have
From Hamburger Abendblatt on April 6th:
"Is the Hamburg Scientology Organization broke? Yesterday, the Director of
the Work Group on Scientology in the Interior Agency, Ursula Caberta,
stated the sect was 'practically bankrupt' and was only keeping itself
afloat 'only with financial injections from the USA.' The Work Group has
therefore filed criminal charges of 'fraudulent bankruptcy.' However, the
organization has recently moved into a new domicile on Dom Street. That
was allegedly financed with 20 million marks directly from the US American
Scientology management, according to Caberta. It is said that Scientology
left its former center on Steindamm still owing a large amount of back
"Her perspective was verified by a US American and businessman who is
visiting Hamburg, Bob Minton, who is regarded in the States as 'Enemy Nr.
1' of the Scientology Organization. Minton, who is supporting the
relatives of Lisa McPherson, the woman who was leaving Scientology who
died in 1995 under mysterious circumstances, has himself experienced
threats and reprisals from Scientology's intelligence agency, which it
calls 'OSA' and which he described as 'paramilitary.' Those have ranged
from harassing his business partner to threats made upon family members.
"There is a hearing in the Hamburg Administrative Court today on whether
the city and others may require companies to sign a statement saying they
have nothing to do with Scientology. Scientology has sued against that
From TAZ on April 7th:
"The Hamburg Interior Agency issued a warning of a new offensive by the
Scientology Organization in Hamburg. According to statements by the
Director of the 'Arbeitsgruppe Scientology' (AGS), Ursula Caberta, both
her staff and Constitutional Security have described renewed operations
just within these past few weeks.
"For instance, today the organization opened a 'What is Scientology'
exhibit on Gaensemarkt. At the same time it is contesting the allowability
of the so-called 'technology declaration' with the AGS before the
Administrative Court. The declaration is meant to give corporations the
opportunity to guarantee that their business partners do not operate
according to the 'technology of L. Ron Hubbard' - the deceased
ex-Scientology ideologue. Caberta said, 'That does not sit well with some
"As a rebuttal to the transient opinion that Scientology is well thought
of in the USA, the AGS Director invited Bob Minton and Stacy Brooks to the
Elbe. Minton has devoted himself to the fight against Scientology since
1995: 'It is not a religious movement, but a totalitarian, political
movement,' said Minton. He said that 'puppets from Hollywood' have helped
it out in the publicity department. He is currently giving ex-member Lisa
McPherson's relatives support in proceedings which are to clear up the
circumstances surrounding her mysterious death."
Volksblatt Wuerzburg reported on April 8th that a court dismissed
Scientology's challenge to the practice of registering whether companies
use the technology of L. Ron Hubbard.
"The Scientology Organization has failed in its attempt to take action in
court against the Work Group on Scientology commissioned by the Interior.
The Administrative Court dismissed their complaint that the so-called
'technology statement' of the Work Group was inadmissible. The statement
can be ordered from the agency by companies to find out if staff have
connections with Scientology. The statement includes a question as to
whether the person filling it out operates according to the 'technology of
L. Ron Hubbard.'"
> Kansas CityThe Kansas City Star reported on March 29th that Scientology plans to
build a headquarters on a main street in nearby Shawnee Mission.
"The Church of Scientology might buy a former cafeteria on Johnson Drive
to use as its area headquarters serving six states. The use is a little
unusual because most churches operate in residential neighborhoods, not
commercial areas like Johnson Drive, Mission leaders said. The church
would hold services on Sunday mornings and programs and counseling during
the week, she added.
"Commissioner Kim Brophy liked the idea of the church operating on Johnson
Drive, rather than a neighborhood. Other cities, she said, have wrestled
with megachurches, congregations that bring thousands of worshipers into
residential neighborhoods - often to the annoyance of residents. Keeping
the church in a commercial area would help prevent those problems, Brophy
> Lisa McPhersonHearings were held this week in both the civil and criminal cases
resulting from the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson. In each case,
Scientology was arguing to dismiss the case because of the change in Dr.
Joan Wood's autopsy report from "undetermined" to "accidental".
From the St. Petersburg Times on April 4th and 6th, on proceedings in the
"'The entire basis for the state's prosecution of this case has now
collapsed,' begins one of the many Scientology legal briefs arguing the
case should be dismissed. The prosecution is grounded in 'consuming
prejudice' against Scientology, the church alleges. Its leading argument
for a dismissal: a February ruling by Medical Examiner Joan Wood, who now
says McPherson died from an 'accident' stemming from a knee bruise that
led to a fatal blood clot in her left lung. Wood once blamed McPherson's
death on 'bed rest and severe dehydration' at Scientology's Fort Harrison
Hotel in Clearwater, but has removed those words from the death
certificate. The church also argues that the prosecution violates Florida
law and the U.S. Constitution.
"Prosecutors, meanwhile, remain adamant that the church should stand trial
for the actions of its Clearwater staffers, who tried for 17 days to nurse
McPherson through a severe mental breakdown, but who also were present
when she died at age 36 on the way to a distant hospital. In the process,
prosecutors say, the church abused McPherson and practiced medicine
without a license.
"If Schaeffer denies the church's request, the focus shifts to a five-week
criminal trial scheduled in October. Scientology officials have warned
they would free their lawyers to mount an all-out defense that could end
up 'harming the credibility of many persons.' 'If we start down that
road,' church official Mike Rinder said recently, 'the result of it is
going to be bad for the city' of Clearwater."
"The hearing in downtown St. Petersburg included a rare public appearance
by Scientology's Los Angeles-based leader David Miscavige, who huddled
with the church's lawyers at breaks and passed them notes during the
proceedings. Behind him: an estimated 200 local Scientologists, many of
whom have written affidavits saying the prosecution of Scientology has
burdened the practice of their religion. The overflow crowd spilled into a
second courtroom where they watched the hearing on TV.
"Pinellas-Pasco Chief Circuit Judge Susan F. Schaeffer called the
situation 'highly unusual' and wondered aloud whether prosecutors could
ever get their case to a jury. The allegation of severe dehydration came
from Chief Assistant State Attorney Doug Crow, despite a February ruling
by Wood that McPherson's death was an 'accident' caused by a blood clot
that traveled from her left knee to a lung. Previously, Wood ruled
McPherson's death was caused by 'bed rest and severe dehydration.' Crow
said he was perplexed by Wood's new ruling and said his office is
reviewing whether it still has a case. Until then, however, it appears he
intends to press the prosecution. Crow told Schaeffer that Wood 'continues
to indicate' that McPherson's 1995 death was the result of medical neglect
at Scientology's Fort Harrison Hotel, where church staffers tried for 17
days to nurse her through a severe mental breakdown.
"Scientology attorney Eric Lieberman argued that the church staffers who
cared for McPherson were engaged in a religious practice called the
Introspection Rundown, which attempts to quiet a psychotic person with
isolation and vitamins followed by Scientology counseling. The practice
is protected from prosecution under the First Amendment and several
Florida laws, Lieberman said. He also cited the state's Religious Freedom
Restoration Act, which prohibits the government from significantly
burdening the practice of religion. Schaeffer questioned the argument,
saying: 'Your position is that your people can be as negligent as they
want to be (without fear of prosecution) and that's kind of a scary
From a Fox-13 News television broadcast on April 5th:
"The case of Lisa McPherson is very important to Scientologists. She
suffered some sort of psychosis in 1995 and died under the care of fellow
Scientologists. Now the church is charged with practicing medicine without
a license and neglecting a disabled adult, charges these Scientologists
see as a personal threat because their religion simply does not believe in
"Bennetta Slaughter: 'They think man is a body, it's a mind, it's a piece
of meat, if you will. That's really opposite religion.'
"Chief Judge Susan Schaeffer asked lots of questions and made comments
that made both sides squirm. Judge Susan Schaeffer: 'It would seem to me
what that statute is clearly saying is if you've got some people that are
doing that they ought not be doing such as practicing medicine, charge
them--don't charge the church.'
"And in other court documents local Scientologists claim the McPherson
case has sparked religious bigotry. They say there have been physical
attacks and businesses owned by Scientologists, they say, have lost
customers and employees. Some even had shots fired through their front
From WTSP Channel 10 News on April 5th:
"Attorneys for the Church of Scientology are arguing that this is a case
really of religious freedom. They say Lisa McPherson denied that
psychiatric care so she could seek spiritual care from her fellow
Scientologists. Of course, she ended up dying in their care, but today her
best friend told me--this is the first time she's speaking out--she told
me she believes the church had nothing to do with Lisa's death.
"Bennetta Slaughter: 'Well, Lisa was like family to me. She and I were
more like sisters, even, than friends. She was practicing her religion.
She was where she wanted to be. Lisa didn't die of anything except a
pulmonary embolism. And if she hadn't died of a pulmonary embolism, she'd
be here today and she'd be a Scientologist today.'
"Prosecutors claim Lisa McPherson was neglected and medically mistreated
by the very people she trusted. They say the Scientology staff was not
trained or equipped to handle McPherson's problems. Still, Bennetta says
she and the church are often accused of killing Lisa. She says the
discrimination from it all is intense. She told me that her daughter along
with a lot of other Scientologist children have been attacked and harassed
in their schools. She said she even took her daughter because of that and
put her in boarding school. Now they tell me, the Scientologists tell me
if these charges are dropped, they will continue to try and mend the
fences in their community and try to prove to people that they are
actually good neighbors, that they always have been good neighbors."
From the Tampa Tribune on April 6th:
"The judge now considering whether to dismiss charges against the Church
of Scientology in the death of Lisa McPherson said Wednesday the whole
case may hinge on the word of a medical examiner. Pasco-Pinellas Medical
Examiner Joan Wood stunned prosecutors in February when she amended her
autopsy report to say Lisa McPherson died accidentally Dec. 5, 1995, as
the result of a blood clot caused by a traffic accident. Despite the new
autopsy report, Wood is still prepared to testify that McPherson died as a
result of medical neglect while in the care of church staffers, State
Attorney Doug Crow told Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer. 'She's the medical
examiner of this circuit. She's testified in very important cases,'
Schaeffer said. 'In this case, she's under question: Can she withstand
rigorous questioning' about changing her original findings? Later, the
judge appeared to question Wood's ability to continue in office as the
circuit's chief medical examiner.
"Worldwide publicity about the case has stigmatized the church and its
members, defense lawyer Eric Lieberman told Schaeffer. Never before has a
church been charged with crimes, he said. If McPherson really was the
victim of criminal neglect during the last 17 days of her life at the Fort
Harrison, then prosecutors should have charged the individuals responsible
for her care, Lieberman argued."
From Channel 28 News on April 6th:
"Bennetta Slaughter: 'Every action that was engaged upon while she was at
the church was done with the intention to provide her with the spiritual
counseling and the help that she needed, wanted and asked for.'
"Doug Crow: 'This is clearly a case of collective responsibility. We
believe the corporation clearly sanctioned, approved the criminal
"But Scientology's lawyers claim with the new ruling McPherson's death was
accidental and constitutional protections for freedom of religion, there
is no case.
"Eric Lieberman, church attorney: 'There can be no basis to charge the
church for this conduct, stigmatizing an entire religion.'
"The maximum penalty for the Church of Scientology in this case is
$15,000. But the church has already spent a lot more than that defending
itself. Scientologists, though, say this fight for religious freedom isn't
about the money; it's about the Constitution."
From the St. Petersburg Times on April 7th:
"After listening to legal arguments over two days, Pinellas-Pasco Chief
Circuit Judge Susan F. Schaeffer said Thursday she will take a month to
decide whether to dismiss the criminal case against the Church of
Scientology. She also expressed support for key arguments raised by the
church, which is defending itself against two charges in the 1995 death of
Lisa McPherson. Schaeffer said she's convinced McPherson consented to go
with fellow Scientologists to the church's Fort Harrison Hotel, where
church staffers tried over 17 days to help her through a severe mental
"She also said it is obvious that individual Scientologists have been hurt
by allegations against the church, a point Scientology uses to argue that
prosecutors are illegally burdening the practice of religion. On a recent
visit to downtown Clearwater, Schaeffer said, she saw pickets protesting
McPherson's death. 'I felt sad for the parishioners that they had to see
that,' she said. 'I'm sure that was very hurtful for them.'
"The judge also questioned the prosecution's decision to charge the whole
church rather than one or more of the staffers who cared for McPherson.
'Let's assume I disagree with you,' Schaeffer told prosecutor Doug Crow,
beginning a line of questioning. 'I don't know if I do or not. But I think
I do, quite frankly.'
"The church, however, took its share of lumps from Schaeffer, who grilled
defense attorney Lee Fugate. The judge noted that the Scientology 'case
supervisor' who oversaw McPherson's care was untrained in medicine, yet
still had authority over the medically trained staffers who looked in on
her. 'That's going to sound real bad to a jury,' Schaeffer said. She also
expressed irritation that none of the staffers with medical training had
licenses. With all of Scientology's resources, she said, 'couldn't they
have had a licensed physician there?' Schaeffer added: 'I bet if you had
somebody trained and licensed, none of us would be here. Just a thought.'
"Fugate disclosed that the case has prompted the church to arrange for a
licensed doctor to be on call at the church's facilities in downtown
Clearwater. He also said local hospitals, including Morton Plant Hospital
in Clearwater, have agreed to keep Scientologists with psychotic symptoms
out of their psychiatric wards."
The Tampa Tribune reported that Scientology is stressing an email sent by
Dr. Wood, asking for help with the tests performed on Lisa McPherson
"Just before she backed away from blaming Lisa McPherson's death on bed
rest and dehydration at the hands of Scientologists, the chief medical
examiner e-mailed a colleague, pleading for help in proving the case.
'Please don't let me down. Life and career at stake,' Pasco-Pinellas
Medical Examiner Joan E. Wood wrote Feb. 13 in a note she titled,
'URGENT!' Defense attorneys brought up the e-mail Thursday in a St.
Petersburg courtroom, where Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer
heard final arguments on a motion to dismiss charges.
"Wood sought help explaining the absence of 'ketones' in tests of bodily
fluid taken from McPherson after her death. Ketones indicate a variety of
physical conditions and diseases, including dehydration. 'We are truly
down to do or die here,' she wrote. 'I will do whatever is right, but if
we are vulnerable because [we] cannot explain absence of ketones, I will
have to back down.' The e-mail message, which prosecutors gave to defense
attorneys this week, sheds light on Wood's decision to amend an autopsy
report that had become a rallying point for critics of Scientology."
In the civil case this week, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Judge
Moody has rejected the motion to dismiss without discussion.
"In a ruling that stunned the Church of Scientology and its lawyers, a
Hillsborough County judge said Friday that religious rights are not a
central issue in the 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson. Circuit
Judge James S. Moody Jr. also said it is not clear whether McPherson
consented to her treatment by Scientology staffers before she died in
their care. That question should be left to a jury, the judge said. After
trying several times to get Moody to change his mind, Scientology's
lawyers glumly retreated. One, frustrated, chucked a fistful of papers
onto the defense table.
"Moody's words contrasted sharply with those of Susan F. Schaeffer, the
chief circuit judge in neighboring Pinellas County, who considered the
same set of facts earlier this week in a criminal case against
Scientology. Schaeffer said she will take a month to decide whether to
dismiss two felony charges against the church in McPherson's death. But
the church's lawyers reminded Moody of Schaeffer's comments during a
two-day hearing. 'I respect Judge Schaeffer greatly, but I doubt her
rulings are going to affect my rulings,' Moody said.
"Even if McPherson did consent to entering the hotel, Moody said, there
are questions about whether she withdrew that consent later. 'You say she
then consented forever to whatever they wanted to do,' Moody told a
Scientology lawyer. 'That doesn't make sense and it's not the law. Even a
religion cannot use coercive practices. If she changes her mind, she
changes her mind.' The church says McPherson consented but later became
mentally incompetent to make decisions about her care, leaving staffers
legally bound to honor her initial request for Scientology care."
From the Tampa Tribune on April 8th:
"As criminal charges against the Church of Scientology over the 1995 death
of Lisa McPherson hang in the balance, a wrongful death lawsuit filed
against the church by McPherson's family grinds toward a June trial. A
Hillsborough circuit judge Friday denied requests by both sides that he
rule on the civil case before it reaches a jury. Each side had asked for a
ruling in its favor based on whether McPherson consented to her stay - and
the care she received - at the church's spiritual headquarters in the Fort
Harrison Hotel in Clearwater before her death. The church says she did;
her survivors say she didn't.
"In announcing his decision, Judge James S. Moody Jr. said the case is
'replete with factual disputes.' Resolving those disputes is a jury's job,
not a judge's, he said. Moody also reiterated his view that the lawsuit
doesn't revolve around issues of religion. Rather, the issue is: Did
McPherson consent to be cared for at the hotel and, if she did, did she
later change her mind?"
> Protest SummaryBruce Pettycrew reported two protest this week at the Mesa, Arizona org.
"I dropped by after work for a quick picket this afternoon. The traffic
from 3:45 to 4:30 was heavy, at full rush hour levels when I left. My sign
got a lot of honks and waves. The sign is 3 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet, with
'Scientology Lies' on one side and 'Scientology Hurts People' on the
other. When the wind blows above 10 mph, as today, it can be a great upper
body workout to keep the sign up and straight. I gave out one leaflet to
a pedestrian - I wish there was more foot traffic at the site, but the
heavy drive-by crowd makes it a great place for my jumbo sign; More than
2500 drivers/passengers had a chance to see my sign during this picket."
"Kathy and I picketed the One-and-only Arizona site of the Co$ in Mesa
again today, from about 8:45 to 9:30 this morning. There were three cars
in the lot when we arrived, and three more came during the picket - plus
two cars dropped off people. I estimate a total of less than ten people
this fine morning in the Valley of the Sun."
John Ritson and Jens Tingleff reported a protest in East Grinstead,
England, near the Saint Hill compound.
"Bonnie Woods dropped by and Roland turned up and at about 3:00 we started
picketing outside the Scientologists' bookshop and 'Information Centre' in
the town. The reaction of the one member of staff there was to lock the
door and make the first of a long series of phone calls. No attempt at
confrontation, though she looked as if it would have done her good to get
out in the sunshine occasionally. We had the boom box playing Hubbard's
'man on the cross, there was no man on the cross' and similar rantings.
Two women were let into the shop, then another two, who had walked past us
earlier, and finally a man appeared. They tried the 'Death Stare' but the
only effect was laughter.
"The police turned up in response to a complaint from the Scientologists,
and made it clear to the Scientologists that we had a perfect right to
picket. They had objected to us standing in front of their window, to
which the police response was "If people can't stand in front of shop
windows, how are the shops ever going to sell anything?". The shopkeeper
had also complained about our boom box giving out a 'distorted noise'."
"Bonnie Woods joined us and told about how her work is now going stronger
than ever. Not only is she refreshed after a much deserved vacation paid
for by the $cientology organisation, she's also very busy doing stuff that
will help a lot of victims of the Co$ and prevent a great many people ever
falling into the hands of the fraud-perpetrating suicide-inducing cult.
"The police arrived (after 35 - 40 minutes), and informed us that the shop
had complained that were making a 'loud garbled noise.' It's true, we were
loud and the material was hardly a model of reason, but I though it was
really very unkind of the clams to characterise L Ron Hubbard as
> South AfricaReuters reported on April 3rd that South Africa has agreed to allow
Scientology ministers to marry other people.
"The South African Department of Home Affairs has granted ministers in the
Church of Scientology the right to marry people in that country, a
spokesman for Los Angeles-headquartered Scientology said Monday. The Rev.
Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International, said
the decision legalizes all marriages performed by Scientology ministers in
that country and 'means that Scientology is now fully recognized as a bona
fide religion in South Africa.'"
From the Associated Press:
"Twelve Church of Scientology ministers have been licensed to perform
marriage ceremonies, the government announced. The ruling ends a
40-year-long battle for recognition by the controversial church. Paul
Sondergaard, the church's South African spokesman, said the ruling showed
the government's commitment to protecting the rights of minority
"In South Africa, the Church of Scientology is registered as a nonprofit
> SwedenA Swedish legislator can be charged with copyright violations for placing
secret Scientology materials in a public library, according to M2 on April
"The Swedish constitutional committee has found that Carina Hagg, a MP for
the social democrats, can be prosecuted for spreading the so-called
Scientology 'bible'. The committee has investigated whether Hagg could be
regarded as having legal immunity since she is an MP, as she has been
reported to the police by the Scientologists for allegedly breaching the
copyright law. Hagg reportedly handed in course material, referred to as
the Scientology 'bible' from the Scientology church to the municipal
library in Jonkoping.
"The case is a part of a conflict between copyright and the
right-of-access principle that involves the Scientology. Some years back,
a former Swedish member of the church decided to hand the 'bible' over to
Swedish authorities to make sure that it was made available. The Swedish
government however decided to make the material secret, according to
Dagens Nyheter this was done after there had been urgent requests from the
> Kelly Preston/John TravoltaMrshowbiz reported on April 4th that Kelly Preston and John Travolta have
completed the Scientology childbirth of their second child.
"The baby girl, named Ella Bleu, weighed 9 pounds at birth. The delivery
was planned to be what Scientologists call a 'quiet birth.' The star of
Look Who's Talking Now explains the non-talking concept to Entertainment
Tonight. 'We do the traditional French Lamaze, but in Dianetics, you try
and keep the delivery room quiet so there's nothing recorded in the
child's mind that shouldn't be there while there's pain going on,'
Travolta says. Kelly is free to moan, because 'the sounds are not as
detrimental. Any people saying any kind of negative verbiage may adversely
affect the baby later on.'"