The subject of this story, Annie Tidman, denied through her attorney that the following events happened. The attorney would not make Tidman available to be interviewed. This account comes from interviews with her ex-husband and four former Church of Scientology staff members.
The morning of Nov. 17, 1992, Annie Logan left the Church of Scientology's California base without permission.
She took a cab to nearby Ontario International Airport. Her husband, Jim Logan, had prepaid for a ticket to Boston, but the airline couldn't find her name on the passenger list. She called Logan at his parent's house in Nova Scotia, nervous, figuring church staffers were likely in pursuit.
"She was definitely anxious because every moment that is lost, they have time to catch up,'' he said.
Jim and Annie had a plan: She would fly to Boston, change planes and fly to Portland, Maine, where he would be waiting. They would drive to Nova Scotia and start a new life and family together. They would remain Scientologists, but no longer as members of the church's work force, the Sea Org.
He told her the name he used in buying the ticket, and she called back a few minutes later, more relaxed. She had made it through security. "You better be at the airport,'' she told him.
Jim Logan drove through a snowstorm that night to be at the gate in Portland. But his wife never arrived. They have not spoken since.
Marty Rathbun got the word during his morning workout at the Scientology base in Southern California.
Annie Logan was gone.
"This was a five-alarm fire,'' the former church official recalled. "I knew this was a crying catastrophe.''
Starting as a young teenager and all through her 20s, Annie Tidman was a trusted aide to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. She was one of his four original "messengers.'' She ran errands, summoned staff and carried his correspondence.
She married Pat Broeker and the couple became close aides to Hubbard in his final years. She was with the founder to the end, one of a handful who could expand on Scientology's closely scripted narrative surrounding his 1986 death, his finances and his intentions regarding the church's future leadership.
With Hubbard's blessing, Annie Broeker became a top Scientology executive. But she was edged aside by David Miscavige, an intense young officer who grabbed the reins of the church after the founder died.
This is the story of how she left and came back, and another example of the church controlling staff who might reveal Scientology's inner workings.
The morning she took off, Scientology's security team quickly found her flight information and Rathbun was on his way.
A longtime top lieutenant of Miscavige, Rathbun often went after Sea Org members who left or "blew,'' especially high-profile ones.
"I literally just grabbed the wallet, a cell phone, threw them in my pockets, jumped in the car, and told my secretary, 'Get me on the soonest flight to Boston' … And I just started heading down the road 100 miles an hour toward Ontario.''
Rathbun's mission: intercept Annie Logan before she reached her husband and bring her back to the Sea Org. He said his plane landed in Boston about 20 minutes behind hers.
Rathbun said he hurried to where her connecting flight to Portland was about to board, went down some stairs and came within shouting distance of the passengers as they walked toward the plane.
She swung around.
"And literally when she saw me, she kind of was startled and her shoulders just drooped," Rathbun said. "She was defeated. I didn't even have an argument with her. I didn't have to go to persuasion. She was just so shocked."
She went back to the terminal with Rathbun, who said he played on her loyalty to Hubbard. He told her that running away could damage the church's chance of gaining tax-exempt status, which was close at hand after a 40-year battle with the IRS.
Enemies would be at her door wanting inside information on Hubbard, his estate and church finances, Rathbun warned.
She agreed to come back to California, Rathbun said. He said he called Miscavige to tell him they would be on the first plane back in the morning.
But Rathbun said Miscavige already had arranged for them to be flown back that night on one of John Travolta's planes, to make sure Annie Logan did not have another chance to run.
She was back in the fold.
Travolta's publicist referred all questions regarding Scientology to the church, which described this account as "utterly ridiculous.''
AN 'OUTRAGEOUS INTRUSION'
She is 53 now, and goes by her maiden name, Annie Tidman.
Her lawyer, Richelle Kemler, declined to make her available for an interview. She said the St. Petersburg Times is relying on biased, ill-informed and discredited sources.
"All of the statements attributed to her and all of the actions involving her that were described in (the Times' questions) are false,'' Kemler wrote.
In another letter, Kemler described the story as "an outrageous intrusion into her privacy.''
Church spokesman Tommy Davis decried this story and previous Times coverage as "tabloid journalism.''
"Your newest low is your recent obsession with Annie Tidman, who has been a close and dear friend of Mr. Miscavige for over 30 years. You have already proven you do not let mere facts get in the way of the story you want to create, but the hypocrisy and sheer illogic of your latest invention is astounding."
Davis criticized the Times' "blind reliance" on Jim Logan, who he said was dismissed from the Sea Org and from Scientology "for conduct inconsistent with the tenets of the religion.''
THE BOOT, THEN A PLAN
Pat Broeker left the church, and he and Annie divorced. On June 22, 1990, she remarried.
Her new husband, Jim Logan, didn't hesitate to speak his mind when he saw what he believed were departures from Hubbard policy. He wrote reports critical of Miscavige and other executives.
"He used to take a stand," former base security chief Gary Morehead said of Logan. "If he had an opinion, he'd let his voice be heard. ... Certain things he just wouldn't let go of."
The hierarchy responded in July 1992 with a "non enturbulation order" intended to stop Logan from causing disturbances or agitating colleagues.
In early October, they determined Logan violated the order, and he was declared a "suppressive person,'' an SP, someone who deals only in bad news, can't get things done, won't own up to his crimes, is destructive to others and must be separated from the group.
Morehead was among the staff who escorted Logan to the Old Gilman House, an isolated corner of the 500-acre base reserved for SPs and other troubled staffers. He said they acted on orders from Miscavige.
A few days later, the process began to kick him out of the Sea Org. Logan said he was allowed to see his wife. "She said, 'They can't make me divorce you,' " Logan recalled.
He said they spoke cryptically as they mapped their future. He would try to rehabilitate himself with Scientology and she would begin the formal process of leaving the Sea Org. In six months or so they could reunite and start over together in Nova Scotia.
On Oct. 8, 1992, Logan's last day in the Sea Org, he said church executives showed the couple a Hubbard policy indicating she should "disconnect" from him. Logan said they were being told to divorce.
That same day, according to court records, Annie Logan filed for divorce in Riverside County, Calif. At 8:30 that night, a church executive served Jim Logan with the papers. He was driven to a bus station in Los Angeles and given a ticket to Bangor, Maine.
In the five weeks that followed, he said he and his wife spoke secretly about a dozen times.
Initially, he said, they discussed her plan to follow procedure to leave the Sea Org, but she became impatient to start a new life. "We wanted to have babies; we wanted to have a family," he said.
They talked about voiding the divorce action they had started in the presence of Scientology officials at the base. Logan said he told her she would have to initiate the dismissal because she was the petitioner.
DEAR JIM . . .
When his wife didn't show in Portland, Jim Logan said he called the Boston airport and was told her flight from California had been delayed in Denver and that there was another delay in Boston for her connecting flight. Maybe she would be on the morning flight to Portland.
He waited until morning. No Annie.
"It just came crashing down on me. I thought, 'Oh my God. She went back.' I didn't know what happened."
He flew to Boston to find out more. The airlines could tell him only that she got off there but didn't get on for Portland.
He called security at the Scientology base in Southern California and was told she was there. She had returned to the Sea Org.
"This was incredibly devastating," Logan said.
A few days later, he said, an envelope arrived in Nova Scotia that contained a letter addressed to the Riverside County court, signed "Annie Logan."
"My marriage has reconciled and this proceeding is not needed and I wish to terminate the divorce request," the letter said.
It said she had moved to Nova Scotia and asked the court to send to her new address papers that would allow her to rescind the divorce.
Jim Logan said it was apparent to him that she mailed the letter before she left for Boston and meant for him to send it along to Riverside officials. She included an envelope addressed to his home in Nova Scotia and two quarters to cover the postage.
Years later, Jim Logan views the letter as clear evidence of his wife's intent to join him, a plan that Rathbun managed to short circuit.
That Christmas, Logan sent his wife flowers. She wrote him back in February:
"Dear Jim, I wanted to personally let you know that after much consideration, I have decided to remain in the Sea Org simply because my goals and purposes in life are the same as this group's and can only really be accomplished by this group."
She signed it with a standard Scientology salutation: "ML (much love), Annie."
He said they've not communicated in the 17 years since.
When Annie Logan returned to California, Rathbun said Miscavige directed that she be sent to live in a house on a remote ranch called "Happy Valley," a 20-minute drive from the international base.
Rathbun said Miscavige sometimes gave him updates on her stay there.
Rathbun, Morehead and another former Sea Org member say she lived there for about two years, during which her divorce became final and she went back to her maiden name, Annie Tidman.
A fourth former staffer, Jim Mortland, said he remembers her being there about a year. Mortland, who headed the "estates" division, which oversaw maintenance and construction at Scientology properties in the area, said "it was no secret'' Tidman was at Happy Valley.
Morehead, the security chief at the base for most of the 1990s, said he prepared the house for Tidman to live in and part of his daily routine was driving a Scientology "auditor" there to conduct daily counseling sessions.
Security staff kept track of Tidman, Morehead said, one inside the house, another outside. "They had to be within arm's reach of her at all times," he said. "If she took off, all hell would break loose."
Morehead said the staff understood that if Tidman was to try to leave, there would be no physical restraint. They simply would have walked with her until help arrived to persuade her to stay.
In any case, the nearest town, Hemet, was three hours away by foot and the house was surrounded by dense wilderness.
Amy Scobee said she worked alongside Tidman in the late 1990s and again around 2000. In the church's cinema department, they often worked late into the night, Scobee said. "We would talk and drink coffee and laugh our a---- off."
Scobee said Tidman talked a lot about her time at Happy Valley. She said Tidman initially regretted coming back and forsaking Logan — "She was in love with him.'' — and balked at being at Happy Valley. "It took her a long time to change her mind."
Scobee said Tidman reread Hubbard's books and, over time, decided to keep working in the Sea Org. She said Tidman told her she had decided to never marry again.
"Ultimately, she felt like she was a changed person,'' Scobee said.
Davis, the church spokesman, did not address specific questions about the accounts of Jim Logan, Rathbun, Morehead and the others. He said the lack of response should not be interpreted "as an admission of any truth whatsoever to these insane stories."
Kemler, Tidman's lawyer, wrote that Tidman "has never been held under guard or otherwise held against her will by the church at any time."
She stated Tidman is adamant she did not see or speak with Morehead at the time and did not make the statements attributed to her by Scobee.
On Aug. 26, 1993, Annie and Jim Logan were officially divorced.
Joe Childs can be reached at [email protected]
Thomas C. Tobin can be reached at [email protected]