02/08/13 Special Topics
She was 6 years old and dreamed of being a princess. But her life was far from a fairy tale.
She spent mornings working as a groundskeeper at a Scientology youth camp in California, where she lived with 15 other children whose parents were away, toiling for the church.
At 7, she became the camp's "medical officer.'' Her job: visit the kids who were sick and treat them with vitamins or ointments. ...
01/23/13 Special Topics
TAMPA — A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses the Church of Scientology of using fraudulent, deceptive and high-pressure practices to coax millions of dollars from its members.
Attorneys for the California couple who filed the 35-page complaint in Tampa said they have talked to dozens of former church members and several similar lawsuits are coming.
Plaintiffs Luis and Rocio Garcia of Irvine, Calif., name five Scientology corporations as defendants, including the church's main entity in Clearwater. The former church members say they gave Scientology more than $420,000 for the massive "Super Power" building in Clearwater that has never opened, church services they never received and humanitarian projects that never materialized....
01/17/13 Special Topics
On his way to a dinner party in Los Angeles, Marlon Brando cut his leg helping a stranded motorist. When the legendary actor arrived in pain, John Travolta offered to help him with a Scientology procedure known as an "assist."
"Well, John, if you have powers, then absolutely," said Brando, who let Travolta touch his leg.
The two celebrities closed their eyes for 10 minutes. Then Brando, not a Scientologist, opened his and said, "That really helped. I actually feel different."...
01/13/13 Special Topics
Was John Brousseau for real — a runaway?
Or was he a double agent, sent by the Church of Scientology to infiltrate the enemy?
Church whistle-blower Marty Rathbun was wary when Brousseau unexpectedly emailed him on April 22, 2010, saying he had fled Scientology's big base outside Los Angeles. Brousseau needed a place to lie low.
"I got nobody out here,'' he wrote.
He had read Rathbun's scalding online criticisms of Scientology leader David Miscavige. Brousseau's e-mail said he wanted to help "depower'' Miscavige....
FBI's Scientology investigation: Balancing the First Amendment with charges of abuse and forced labor
01/12/13 Special Topics
John Brousseau hadn't been seen for hours, not at the afternoon muster and not at the dinner break. That's when they got concerned.
At 6 a.m. he had driven his black Ford Excursion out of the Church of Scientology's huge compound east of Los Angeles, guards at the gate waving as usual.
A 32-year member of the church's religious order, the Sea Org, and a master craftsman, Brousseau often did special jobs for Scientology's leader, David Miscavige. He could come and go from the church's International Base with a freedom other workers didn't enjoy. But now it was approaching 7:30 p.m. And he wasn't back....
11/30/12 Special Topics
In a quiet end to a colorful and revealing case, two private investigators have ended their Texas lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige.
The investigators alleged in the suit that Miscavige breached a secret handshake agreement made at his direction in 1989. They said the church had promised to retain them their entire careers, starting with a surveillance operation on former church officer Patrick D. Broeker....
Scientology critics allege church tried to influence Pinellas legal community in Lisa McPherson case11/19/12 Special Topics
Scientology critics allege in recently filed court papers that the church hired local lawyers to schmooze Pinellas judges and gave gifts to a prominent attorney trying to gain influence during the legal saga that followed the 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson.
High-profile defector Marty Rathbun says in a 57-page sworn statement that Scientology provided Super Bowl tickets to the lawyer for former Pinellas Medical Examiner Joan Wood, whose surprise decision to change her ruling in the cause of McPherson's death torpedoed the state's criminal case against the church....
09/29/12 Special Topics
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Nearly 25 years ago, the Church of Scientology hired two former California cops to do a job.
Spy on Patrick D. Broeker.
Church officials painted Broeker as an errand boy for the late Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. They said he had made off with $1.8 million and a cache of critically important Hubbard records.
Follow Broeker, they said. Watch him every minute. Report back frequently....
Church of Scientology paid two private investigators millions to trail David Miscavige's rival, lawsuit claims09/21/12 Special Topics
Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige ordered surveillance on one of his former church rivals in a secret operation that lasted 25 years and ate up millions in church funds, a Texas lawsuit alleges.
The two private investigators who filed the suit say the church hired them to conduct intensive surveillance on Pat Broeker, a church leader who worked closely with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in the 1970s and '80s. Broeker was ousted by Miscavige in a power struggle after Hubbard's 1986 death....
09/20/12 Special Topics
A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of an aggressively contested wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Church of Scientology and three parishioners after the apparent suicide of a Virginia man who died while visiting his Scientologist father in Clearwater.
Kyle Brennan, 20, of Charlottesville, Va., shot himself the night of Feb. 16, 2007, with a handgun he found in his father's apartment, Clearwater police determined. ...
09/19/12 Special Topics
The artists who gave us The Master have downplayed any connection between their much anticipated film and the Church of Scientology.
"It's not the L. Ron Hubbard story," lead actor Philip Seymour Hoffman told Entertainment Weekly, referring to Scientology's founder.
Director and writer Paul Thomas Anderson says there are "similarities" to the church's early 1950s beginnings, but they merely provide a "backdrop" for his tale about two very different men who cross paths in post-World War II America....
09/06/12 Special Topics
The Church of Scientology tried to bargain with two of its most high-profile antagonists after defeating them in civil court recently by offering to wipe out a $42,000 debt in exchange for information about other church critics.
Former church staffers Claire and Marc Headley battled Scientology in state and federal court in California for 3½ years over unfair labor practices, forced abortion and human trafficking claims. They lost on appeal July 24....
08/15/12 Special Topics
Already shaken by a series of high-level defections, accounts of abuse among its staffers, and the high-profile breakup of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, the Church of Scientology now faces scrutiny over its controversial drug treatment program, Narconon.
Four deaths at Narconon's signature treatment facility in eastern Oklahoma have prompted local law enforcement and health officials to investigate the center and its program. ...
06/19/12 Special Topics
Former Scientology officer Debbie Cook, who rocked the church early this year with damaging testimony before agreeing to stay silent forever, will move this week to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, friends say.
She and her husband, Wayne Baumgarten, have sold their car, their furniture and many other household possessions, said Jon Donley, a Web designer and media consultant who worked for the couple in 2010 and 2011 at their now-defunct marketing company in San Antonio, Texas....
04/24/12 Special Topics
Only weeks ago, after delivering hours of damaging testimony about the Church of Scientology, former church official Debbie Cook sounded as if she was just getting started.
She said she had much more to tell. She hoped out loud that raising the curtain on church abuses might spark "a reformation from within."
This week, her voice went silent.
Cook and Scientology settled a church lawsuit that backfired when she took the stand Feb. 9 in San Antonio, Texas. ...