A.r.s Week in Review - 1/14/2001
Week in Review Volume 5, Issue 39
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:
> ClearwaterThe St. Petersburg Times reported on January 14th that a hearing was held
regarding alleged violations of the restraining order placed against
Scientology and critics who protest in downtown Clearwater.
"Ten feet has become ultra-important to downtown Clearwater's archenemies,
the Church of Scientology and the Lisa McPherson Trust, an
anti-Scientology watchdog group. It's how far apart the members of each
group must stay from each other, according to an injunction issued Nov. 30
by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge Thomas Penick. On Friday, Penick
faced the parties again at the St. Petersburg Judicial Building as each
accused the other of crossing the line. Each side was hoping Penick would
find the other in contempt of court, and maybe even toss them in jail.
"Among their claims: The church says critic Tory Bezazian sat in its
Santa chair. The trust says Scientologists had someone follow two of its
people to Ruth's Chris Steak House in Tampa and interrupt their supper.
But Friday, Penick never got to see any of the evidence, even though he
had blocked off his entire day for the hearing. But by 12:30 -- after
three hours of back-and-forth -- the hearing was over, bogged down in
technical legal issues.
"'There seems to be a never ending wealth of allegations and remarks etc.,
etc. between the parties, and other courts seem to get to deal with more
weighty legal matters,' Penick said, 'while I get left like the nanny at
home that has to take care of the children.' The church critics came with
props: a megaphone, like the ones they use to picket the church, and 'The
Threep,' which Minton uses when he protests. It is a retractable pole
that stretches to 10 feet with a copy of the injunction hanging at the
end. The Threep is also equipped with a bicycle horn and a flashing red
"The critics wore white roses on their lapels. Members said it was a new
statement symbolizing the White Rose, a group of German students and
academics who protested Nazi Germany's Third Reich during World War II.
From the bench, Penick took note of the adornments. 'You can notice one
side because they're all wearing white roses,' Penick said. 'Maybe from
now on these sides should come in color-coded.'"
> Erika ChristensenUSA Today reported on January 11th on Scientology celebrity Erika
"She's starring in the box office hit Traffic as the junkie daughter of
the White House drug czar (Michael Douglas). But the 18-year-old actress
couldn't be playing more against type. The Christensens, who live in
L.A., are avid members of the Church of Scientology, which takes a strong
position against drugs.
"'I can't say enough about how I'm against drugs, and it's not something
where I say 'Just don't do it,' Christensen says. 'I'm saying, Be smart,
think about it, look at what it does to people, look at how much you have
to experience in life and be courageous enough to do everything you want
to without that chemical help.' Christensen researched her role for three
months through Narcotics Anonymous. After making the movie, she thanked
the organization by speaking to kids at a hospital fair about the dangers
> CCHRScientology issued a press release this week criticizing the U.S. Surgeon
General for a conference on mental health.
"The Citizens Commission on Human Rights is calling the 'Report of the
Surgeon General's Conference on Children's Mental Health' yet another
attempt for snaring billions of taxpayers dollars by a failing mental
health monopoly, which has consistently failed to find scientific evidence
for any of the so-called child mental disorders. Bruce Wiseman, the
national President of CCHR stated, 'One of the report's main contributors,
the National Institute of Mental Health, admits that after spending $6
billion in research, no causes for mental illnesses have yet been
established. They still cannot scientifically prove that any child has any
of these so-called mental disorders such as Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder, yet millions of children are supposedly affected
by it. The truth is these are nothing but arbitrary labels created by
psychiatrists to justify their existence and rake in insurance money'.
"CCHR will be utilizing Freedom of Information Act procedures to obtain
the supposed science and studies behind this report. Wiseman says, 'The
public has a right to know what proof the Surgeon General has that
millions of children have mental disorders -- and what scientific proof
there is that these disorders even exist.'"
> FranceLe Canard Enchaine, a French satirical newspaper, reported on January 10th
that a publisher is suing Scientology over the name of their magazine.
"Guy Sorman, who published in the past the monthly journal L'Esprit Libre
(The Free Mind), has decided to sue Scientology, which has just published
a magazine under the same name. With a content that Sorman estimates 'in
total contradiction with the liberal ideas he defends.' The publisher
George Krassovsky, owning the Title, thinks also he'll launch a suit
> GermanyGtonline reported on January 6th that a junk real estate scam in Munich is
raising questions about a banker's possible involvement in Scientology.
"At the Hypo-Vereinsbank in Munich Dr. Reiner Fuellmich is hated. The
Goettingen lawyer represents 4,500 small investors who were scammed with
inferior real estate deals, many of whom are now ruined: their purportedly
profitable investment brings in no income from rent, but they still have
to make payments on their loans. Most of the dubious deals were financed
by the Bavarian Hyptheken Bank, which later merged with the Vereinsbank.
Fuellmich alleges that the banks knew very well that the 'junk real
estate' was not even worth half the value that their customers would have
to pay. The response from the Hypo-Bank and other institutions: they are
not the ones responsible for the faulty financial advice, the operation
that made the ruinous real estate available to the public is.
"The campaign against Goettingen attorney Dr. Reiner Fuellmich is
primarily explained by the enormous amounts of money involved in the legal
dispute Fuellmich is dealing with: The Hypo-bank alone dealt in volumes of
from 40 to 50 billion marks in the dirty real estate deals. Finally, the
'Heilbronner Nachrichten' publication uses data from Fuellmich's tax
returns to make an association with the Scientology sect.
"Especially damaging for Fuellmich was the television report 'Das Netz'
broadcast on ZDF July 28, 1999. Without producing any evidence of a
Scientology connection, Fuellmich's picture was repeatedly shown
overlaying sect writings. Fuellmich's opponents from Schaul's group of
people, Hans-Juergen Schaul himself and the commentator accused the
attorney of knowingly or unknowingly cooperating with the sect.
"The libelous campaign was brought to an end by the Hamburg State Court
with its judgment of October 20, 2000: a cease-and-desist order was issued
to prohibit distribution of statements that Fuellmich was associated with
Scientology thereby violating his personality rights; the broadcast was
not permitted to be shown again. In addition the court found that the ZDF
show was a one-sided report although the court did not clarify that.
However Fuellmich let drop in the court's determination that he, in the
battle against his opponent, sent some documents which Scientology also
used against its adversaries. The judgment, a positive one for Fuellmich,
was immediately turned around by his opponents. In mid November in the
'Heilbronner Nachrichten' appeared a report against Fuellmich in his home
town of Nikolausberg which stated only the part about the attorney's
alleged Scientology methods. The pamphlet did not contain one word about
the cease-and-desist order. Also on the second Christmas day in the
'Heilbronner Nachrichten' Fuellmich's tax data again appeared with the
Scientology accusation. As 'source' the paper gave an internet page which
could not be found."
Stuttgarter Zeitung reported on January 11th that Scientology is
conducting an advertising campaign in Stuttgart.
"Scientology is trying to get new members in Stuttgart with expensive
advertising. The city has proved to be a lackey in that the sect is able
to present itself side by side with big-name companies. And do it, of all
places, at the giant screen at Pragsattel. The Stuttgart Market is
responsible for marketing municipal real estate, and it says it relies
completely on an advertising firm with which it does business.
"The ticklish matter is especially annoying for chief assembly
representative Wolfgang Schuster (CDU), who does not want to offer a
platform for advertising in his city. He has denied the sect a major
advertising presence on public spaces, even their leaflets may not be
distributed in Stuttgart. So Schuster can't stand the thought of a laggard
leaving the door wide open to Scientology in his district."
> Brian HaneyBob Minton reported that Brian Haney has settled his lawsuit against
Scientologist Bryan Zwan.
"Brian Haney settled with Zwan, Digital Lightwave and Scientology on
12/21. Haney took the money, he's now gagged and restricted regarding
Scientology and tied in other ways."
> Keith HensonKeith Henson posted an update in his bankruptcy case, in which Scientology
is the chief creditor from a copyright violations case Henson lost.
"The latest news is from my daughter. My wife and I paid a lawyer in LA to
seek a protective order to limit her deposition. Judge March limited it to
one hour and sanctioned the scientologists $1000 'sue sponte.' She also
made comments to the effect of having never seen a bankruptcy of even a
major international company which had a 34 page docket sheet or this many
hours of deposition. The lawyer we were using has decided she no longer
wants to be involved."
> LargoThe St. Petersburg Times reported on January 10th that a Scientology
mission in Largo, Florida will not make its home in a prominent church
building in downtown.
"A wealthy Scientologist has withdrawn plans to buy a church in downtown
Largo in which she hoped to open a Scientology mission. Kathy Feshbach
said she did not feel comfortable about completing the deal after learning
another church, which had been offered the chance to buy the property
before her, is still interested in buying it. She said she will focus on
finding another site in Largo for a mission.
"The 86-year-old building at 160 Sixth St. SW is owned by Abundant Life
Ministries. Grace Community Fellowship Church, which wants to buy the
property, currently worships in the 7,600-square-foot building. Abundant
Life Ministries Pastor Anthony McDaniel said he met with Grace Community
Fellowship representatives Monday and offered to sell the property to
Grace for $389,000. Grace representatives told McDaniel they would respond
"Feshbach and the two partners that had been working with her to buy the
church and the house behind it had offered Abundant Life Ministries
$389,000 for the two properties. The offer was withdrawn late last month.
Feshbach, a Scientologist for 18 years whose family has been a major
contributor to the Church of Scientology and its related efforts, said she
is looking for another Largo property for the mission. The mission's
purpose will be to meet the needs of new Scientologists. Feshbach said it
will be staffed with five to 10 people and will have a bookstore. Classes,
spiritual counseling and training will be offered, Feshbach said.
"Feshbach said she has not talked to any other Largo landowners about
buying property to open a mission. On Tuesday, Feshbach met with Mayor Bob
Jackson and City Commissioner Marty Shelby to discuss her plans and allay
any fears they may have about a Scientology mission in Largo. After
Feshbach's plans became public last month, several city commissioners and
some residents said they were vehemently opposed to a Scientology mission
in Largo, citing the sometimes acrimonious relationship between the Church
of Scientology and the city of Clearwater.
"Feshbach told Jackson there are no plans by the Church of Scientology to
create a major presence in downtown Largo by purchasing large strips of
land. 'The international headquarters are in Clearwater,' she said. 'I
don't think we need any more.' Jackson was pleased to hear that from
Feshbach. 'I feel better to get assurances that they would not expand
their operations,' he said."
> Raul LopezThe Los Angeles New Times published letters to the editor this week in
response to its cover story on Raul Lopez.
"Scientology's treatment of Raul Lopez is outrageous: New Times is to be
commended for its courage in publishing Ron Russell's article about how a
disabled adult was taken advantage of by a litigious cult masquerading as
a church. The analogy likening this young man to a girl being passed
around at a Hell's Angels party is very accurate. Scientology has gotten
away with this type of behavior for too long. They have influenced public
officials who are too lazy to research the cult's long history of abuses.
They have avoided responsibility for their actions by screaming 'religious
intolerance' and calling anyone who protests them bigots. I would like to
know what kind of religion includes taking advantage of the disabled as a
religious tenet and right!
"I note that the Scientology lawyers are already trying to put the blame
elsewhere, this time upon Lopez's mother! And, of course, they imply that
they are the victims of a pair of lawyers representing Lopez by
denigrating them as self-proclaimed 'cult busters.' - Barb Graham, San
"How dare you compare us motorcycle gangsters to Scientologists! As an
ex-member of El Paso, Texas' Thunderclouds (a motorcycle gang that ruled
the streets way back in the late 1970s), I emphatically object to your
paper likening Scientology to a motorcycle gang. No 'motorcycle gang' (we
call them 'bike clubs' now) would have treated Raul Lopez as badly as
those Scientologists did!
"Motorcycle gang members follow a code of honor that requires aggressive
defense of people who are mentally disabled or 'slow.' We protect such
people like brothers or sisters. Ninety-nine percent of motorcycle gang
members would be livid with rage if they saw what those Scientologists
have done to Raul Lopez. Comparing Scientology to a motorcycle gang is a
gross, unpardonable insult to bikers everywhere. Even at our worst, we are
never as bad as Scientology. - Name withheld upon request, San Pedro
"The story of Raul Lopez is sad, and to be exploited by a 'church' is the
zenith of tragedy. Scientology is proving itself, over and over again,
with an ever swelling number of testimonials on the Internet (search for
'Xenu') of people who have abandoned the church after suffering its
abuses, that it is truly the evil empire of this century. If you printed
all of the Web pages on similar church abuses, it would rise from the
floor to the ceiling. - Name withheld upon request, San Diego
"Why is it you guys never say anything good about Scientology, or about L.
Ron Hubbard? As a man who originated the most successful drug
rehabilitation program in the world, Narcanon, and the most used literacy
system, Applied Scholastics, Hubbard ought to merit some favorable mention
in your pages. Isn't your slanted reporting a little obvious, even to you?
Sometimes your reporting is excellent, but on this subject, you go off
like a bunch of wackos. I've been involved in Scientology for 20 years. It
got me off drugs. It helped me handle problems I had as a gay man, coming
out. In all my 20 years involved, including three years as a staff member
at several organizations, I've never observed the kind of negative stuff
New Times reports on. - Keith Relkin, West Hollywood"
> Protest SummaryTory Bezazian reported a protest at several locations in Clearwater this
"Yesterday Arnie Lerma, Randy and I were out doing a picket outside the
Fort Harrison. We were standing on the sidewalk saying things like 'Don't
waste your lives' and Arnie of course saying, 'There are no OT's there',
etc. Suddenly we watched about 20 of people literally running along
through the ground floor of the FH, to the back, into a bus and whisked
away. Paul Kellerhaus followed us around doing his usual filming."
"Randy, Arnie and I did a picket from the Hacienda Gardens (SO berthing)
to the Sandcastle (Clear to OT 7) and the Fort Harrison at night."
"Barb" reported a protest this week at Gold Base in Hemet, California.
"We met a local from Riverside, Richard, and a mystery guest at Ida's
place. The mystery guest is an ex-scio who spent ten years in the cult and
is concerned about the possibility of the special harassment they reserve
for their dissatisfied customers. We parked at the Ashlee memorial, which
has sadly degenerated into remnants. Little bits of feathers, flowers, and
other offerings are returning back to the earth, monitored by the camera
mounted at the pullout area.
"We made one pass up the road to Davey's house and back, and a strange
parade it was; two older men, myself in my usual white hat and Scientology
Kills T-shirt, and our mystery guest wore a rainbow wig and feathered
mask. One fellow pulled over to inquire about our signs, and I gave him
one of Richard's cool business card sized flyer with URLs on it, and a
brief rundown of why we were there. As we returned on the first pass, a
car pulled out and waited for us. It had our PI buddy Frank. Frank was
wearing his silly grin, but didn't acknowledge my greeting to him. He
dropped off his companion, and drove down past the Ashlee memorial, where
he parked across the street with his beloved telephoto lens.
"My dad noticed that the keys were not in his pocket. A car pulled over to
ask about our signs. We enlisted them to give Richard and Miss X a ride to
the Golden Era golf course and a phone. Frank hastily followed them to the
golf course, where Miss X got to meet a very, very curious Muriel
Dufresne. Finally a tow truck arrived to open up the car. I found the
keys on the passenger's seat, under a cushion."
> TimeThe Atlanta Journal Constitution reported on January 13th that Time
Magazine has won an appeal by Scientology to reverse the dismissal of a
libel lawsuit over the 1991 cover article.
"Time Inc. and another unit of AOL Time Warner Inc. have persuaded a
federal appeals panel to uphold the dismissal of a libel suit brought by
the Church of Scientology International. The lawsuit stemmed from a 1991
cover story in Time magazine titled 'Scientology: The Cult of Greed,'
which called Scientology 'a ruthless global scam.' The 7,500-word story by
journalist Richard Behar said the church survives by 'intimidating members
and critics in a Mafia-like manner,' and called Scientology a 'ruthless
... terroristic' cult. The church sued Behar, Time and Time Warner for
libel, claiming that these and other statements were defamatory."
From the New York Law Journal on January 16th:
"In a libel lawsuit, the Church of Scientology failed to show actual
malice by a writer for Time magazine, which published an expose of the
organization in 1991, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has
held. The appeals court, in a suit filed over the Time cover story
'Scientology: The Cult of Greed,' also said that no reasonable jury could
find that reporter Richard Behar published allegations about a stock scam
and murder-suicide involving members of the church 'with purposeful
avoidance of the truth.'
"Mr. Behar's 10-page article criticized Scientology as a 'ruthless global
scam' posing as a religion that survived 'by intimidating members and
critics in a 'Mafia-like' manner.' One allegation in the story, denied by
the church, was that church member Steven Fishman stole stock confirmation
slips in order to join dozens of successful securities class action
lawsuits. Mr. Behar reported that Mr. Fishman spent almost a third of the
million dollars he made from the stock scam on Scientology books and
tapes, and when he was caught, was instructed by the church to kill a
psychiatrist that he had confided in, Dr. Uwe Geertz, and then kill
"The Second Circuit agreed with Judge Leisure that the church could not
make a showing of actual malice in publishing either the stock scam or
murder-suicide allegations. 'The article does not present Fishman's claim
as undisputed fact, but rather makes clear that Scientology denies the
truth of Fishman and Dr. Geertz's charges,' said Chief Judge John M.
Walker Jr., writing for the appeals court. 'In view of the extensive
research Behar conducted and the fact that the death threat was accurately
reported as an allegation, we agree with the district court that no
reasonable jury could find' Mr. Behar was purposefully avoiding the truth
in publishing the allegations.
"Other statements from the article that the court found fell short of
actual malice were the 'Mafia-like' allegation, a second that called the
group 'classically terroristic,' and a third that read: 'Those who
criticize the church--journalists, doctors, lawyers and even judges--often
find themselves framed for fictional crimes, beaten up or threatened with
"Another allegation concerned the suicide of a man named Noah Lottick. Mr.
Behar had written that 'The Lotticks lost their son, Noah, who jumped from
a Manhattan hotel clutching $171, virtually the only money he had not yet
turned over to Scientology. His parents blame the church and would like to
sue but are frightened by the organization's reputation for ruthlessness.'
The church had argued that Mr. Behar had a negative view of Scientology,
and in the words of Judge Walker, 'that his bias pervaded the
investigation and caused him to publish false and defamatory statements'
about the church--a claim Judge Leisure found unsupported by the evidence.
Moreover, Judge Leisure said that the church had failed to show inadequate
investigation on the part of the reporter."
> Joan WoodThe St. Petersburg Times reported on January 11th that former Medical
Examiner is refusing to testify in a murder case.
"Former Pasco-Pinellas Medical Examiner Joan Wood is refusing to respond
to subpoenas to give a deposition considered critical to the defense in a
murder case. Wood, who retired Sept. 30 after she was harshly criticized
for her role in the collapse of the high-profile criminal case against the
Church of Scientology, skipped a Nov. 1 deposition at which she was to
testify about the suspicious death of a 7-month-old girl. She was served
with a subpoena on Sept. 28, but as the date for the deposition
approached, Wood's associates said she was too ill to testify.
"Wood, 56, served as the circuit's chief medical examiner for 18 years,
but the end of her career was tarnished by the case of Scientologist Lisa
McPherson, who died in 1995 after 17 days in the care of church staffers.
'The actions and testimony of Dr. Wood, a forensic witness essential to
the state's case, has so muddled the equities and underlying facts in this
case, however, that it has undermined what began as a strong legal
position,' the memo said."