The Truth Rundown

High-ranking defectors tell of violence in Scientology’s top ranks. This three-part series also reveals new information about the Lisa McPherson death case and details the degrading rituals that keep church staffers in line.

  1. After L. Ron Hubbard died, David Miscavige became Scientology’s leader. Former church executives say Miscavige beat his staff. Church officials say the defectors are lying. [LUKE MACGREGOR  |  Reuters]
    High-ranking defectors provide an unprecedented inside look at Scientology, its leader and the Lisa McPherson case.
  2. At a ceremony at the Fort Harrison Hotel in September 1995, Lisa McPherson was designated “clear,” meaning that through Scientology counseling, she had rid herself of all interference from troubling memories buried in her subconscious. Two months later she had a nervous breakdown. After 17 days in Scientology’s care, she was dead. [Special to the Times (1996)]
    New details about the case of Lisa McPherson, who died in the care of Scientologists, from the executive who directed the Church of Scientology’s handling of the case. He admits he ordered the...
  3. Mike Rinder, left, said he remembers a group confession early in 2004 because his longtime friend Marty Rathbun, right, ended up attacking him. Rinder and Rathbun have both defected. [TOM TOBIN  |  St. Petersburg Times]
    Four high-ranking defectors describe bizarre behavior and physical beatings inflicted by Scientology leader David Miscavige. They say his behavior grew more erratic in the wake of the Lisa McPherson...
  4. A 1998 photo of David Miscavige (Times files) [Times files]
  5. Downtown Clearwater Church of Scientology property taken in 2006. [St. Petersburg Times]
  6. Jun. 21, 2009• Long Reads
    In a 1998 photograph, Scientology leader David Miscavige talks about ending the church's long running battles in Clearwater. [St. Petersburg Times]
  7. A family photograph of Lisa McPherson. [Courtesy of the McPherson family]
  8. In this 2009 photograph, the Church of Scientology campus stand prominently in downtown Clearwater. [DOUGLAS CLIFFORD  |  St. Petersburg Times]