SCIENTOLOGY LEGAL DEFEAT
This editorial opinion provided by FACTNet, Inc. (Fight Against Coercive
Tactics Network.) http://www.factnet.org
PO Box 3135
Boulder, CO 80307-3135 USA
May 9, 2002 9:00 AM.
It was a crushing and humiliating legal defeat for the cult that is infamous
around the world for its outrageous litigation tactics. Over the past 22
years Scientology spent an estimated 140 million in and out of the court in
its efforts to crush a former member, Lawrence Wollersheim, and his legal
The Wollersheim v. Church of Scientology of California (CSC) litigation
wound its way though the LA Superior Court, the California Appellate and
Supreme courts as well as the US Supreme court almost a half a dozen times.
In the first landmark Wollersheim decision, Scientology's counseling
practices were found to be dangerous in the first jury decision of the LA
Superior Court. These dangerous counseling practices were also found to be
the cause of Lawrence Wollersheim being driven to the brink of insanity.
Thereafter, Scientology filed numerous malicious and tangential legal
actions designed to inhibit Wollersheim right of due legal process and to
exhaust his financial resources so that he could not carry on his case. The
California court saw this new abuse and fined Scientology separately
$500,000 in what is known as a SLAPP lawsuit (Strategic Lawsuits Against
Public Participation.) This SLAPP fine was the highest fine ever paid for
such a suit in California.
In another ill-conceived effort to avoid paying the judgment Scientology
stripped an estimated 500 million dollars from the Church of Scientology of
California and transferred its assets to other corporations in the
Scientology corporate umbrella. To collect this judgment from the new
Scientology corporations that had received the money, Wollersheim and his
legal team filed a new collection lawsuit naming the Church of Scientology
International (CSI) and religious Technology Corporation (RTC) as
responsible for paying the Wollersheim judgment because of their receipt of
the CSC assets.
On 9th May 2002, just before minutes before CSI and RTC were to appear in
court Scientology hurriedly delivered an $8,674,643 cashiers check to the LA
superior court clerk. This stopped having any additional evidence presented
in court that could have exposed Scientology's lack of corporate integrity,
and could have exposed Scientology's controversial IRS charitable tax
exemption to review and potential repeal as well as stopped the very real
risk that Scientology's top executives could soon being put in jail for
corporate and asset fraud.
During the original 5-month jury trial in the LA Superior court in 1986
Scientology had almost 25,000 members picketing the courthouse carrying
signs saying "Not one thin dime for Wollersheim" and "We will NEVER pay."
David Miscavige, the cult's current leader and former executive in CSI and
RTC at the time of the (CSC) transfers, as well as other top Scientology
cult leaders, repeatedly vowed to members that nothing could ever force them
to pay the Wollersheim judgment and they would fight the judgment forever no
matter how much it costs or what the sacrifice.
After today's last minute payment it would appear that what David Miscavige
and Scientology's other senior executives were actually saying was that they
would only stonewall on the payment up to that point at which they were in
danger of exposing themselves personally for potential felonies. And that
they wanted, at all costs, to avoid Scientology's controversial IRS
tax-exempt status grant being exposed in a court of law to evidence that
could cause its repeal.
Scientology leaders are now faced with having to concoct a story for their
current members explaining the painfully obvious incongruity of their
actions. They also have to now contend with the floodgates being thrown wide
open for thousands of new lawsuits being filed by emboldened former members
who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to Scientology and/or were also
harmed by Scientology's outrageous counseling tactics.
In an exclusive for interview for FACTNet Lawrence Wollersheim said the
following about this long overdue and hard won victory:
"It is my opinion that there are hundreds of thousands of people all over
the US, Europe and South America who have been destroyed by this cult and
then intimidated into silence. But, I now do not think that these people
will remain silent any longer.
I believe that they see this abusive cult has been beaten by the power of
the law and patience. I hope that they will begin immediately calling their
lawyers to use the full power of the law get their lives back and seek
restitution as well. I also believe that after this court victory, former
members who were intimidated into silence about criminal acts they were
coerced to commit while in Scientology will come forward and speak with the
proper government officials.
It took me 22 years of using the slow but steady power of law to enforce
justice upon this dangerous cult. There were times when I thought I could
not go on any longer. But then I would remember the many people who have
lost their lives in Scientology such as Lisa McPherson (a current
Scientology wrongful death case in Florida.). These people would have no
voice if someone did not win a Scientology case.
I remembered Medger Evers wife who fought for 32 years and finally got the
killers of her husband (the civil right worker) to trial. I thought of the
families for the four African American teens in Atlanta who, after 39 years
of persistence using the force of the law, finally got the fourth Ku Klux
Klan member suspected in their deaths to trial.
When I saw the courage, persistence and dedication these individuals
displayed in using the law to effect justice I told myself to stop being
such a wimp and that I was only at the 12, 18, 20, and 22 year mark. These
numbers were nothing compared to the 32 years that Medger's wife fought.
What also sustained me in fighting for justice, no matter the level of
threat or intimidation, was my faith in a higher, infinite and benevolent
The most important thing I have learned in this ordeal is that true justice
is not the law. Nor is it the judges or courts. True justice is that sense
of fairness that we all have in our hearts. It is that which gives us the
power to ensure justice for others and the strength to demand justice for
ourselves against all odds.
The most important thing I could say to others or to social advocacy groups
that are facing or considering cult - litigation, or bringing lawsuits
against wealthy corporations like cigarette companies or fighting the
governments that are polluting our environment or committing financial or
other criminal acts, is that they should use the legal system and be
patient. Do not be intimidated into silence. Do not let the wealth or the
size of your opponent dissuade you. At the end of the day, the power of
justice sought through law and patience dwarfs any opposing force or party.
The rewards for enforcing justice are many. If you are a victim, justice is
the miracle healer that accelerates the process far beyond just therapy.
When a victim turns the tables on its former oppressor using the legal
system they no longer remain a victim. The process transforms them
psychologically and empowers them emotionally. There are also new laws like
the SLAPP laws that protect the weaker or poorer parties from wealthy
adversaries that are trying to punish them for speaking out or working for a
better world. This is the good news.
Lastly, I want thank all of the lawyers and former members and all the
family friends and other people who, as a team, forced this ruthless cult to
comply with the law. It could not have been done other than as a team.
I promise that everything that Scientology sought to hide from public
scrutiny in my case (by stopping the hearings with their $8,760,000 payment
to the court) will go to the proper government authorities. Everything in my
case that can be made available to other new cases suing Scientology will be
made available as soon as possible.
It is quite a paradox that the cult that vowed it would never pay me one
thin dime has now paid over 86 million thin dimes not even including the
$500,000 they paid earlier."
UFOs A SOCIO-CULTURAL PHENOMENON
Cold War hysteria sparked UFO obsession, study finds
Paul Harris Sunday May 5, 2002 The Observer
Budding Fox Mulders and Dana Scullys attracted to the mysteries of the
X-Files will be disappointed: a new book claims UFOs are all in the mind and
should be seen as a form of cultural mass hysteria.
British researchers, who uncovered thousands of previously secret government
and military reports and investigated dozens of sightings, have concluded
that flying saucers were a product of Cold War paranoia - not visitors from
The study by David Clarke and Andy Roberts concluded that none of the
evidence pointed to any form of alien contact. Instead the widespread belief
in UFOs that began in the 1950s and lasted until the present day should be
seen as a social phenomenon.
Clarke said that the UFO craze began at the start of the Cold War, when the
new threat of atomic war with the Soviet Union hung over the world. 'It was
just simple to want to believe in something up there in the sky that could
come and rescue us,' he said.
Many of the early UFO sightings were seemingly confirmed by Britain's
fledgling radar system, often scrambling fighter planes into the sky to
investigate sightings. But, as the new technology improved, the number of
incidents appearing on radar quickly dwindled to zero. 'That cannot be a
coincidence. Those early confirmations were just a product of a primitive
radar system,' Clarke said.
But Clarke and Roberts, whose research is to be published this week in a book
called Out of the Shadows , did uncover evidence that the American Secret
Service, with the possible connivance of the British, looked at ways of using
the public panic over UFOs as a psychological weapon against the Russians.
In CIA memos marked 'secret' and seen by The Observer, top officials consider
exploiting the UFO craze. 'I suggest that we discuss the possible offensive
or defensive utilisation of these phenomena for psychological warfare
purposes,' wrote CIA director Walter Smith in 1952.
'Shortly after that meeting the CIA sent a delegation to Britain to discuss
UFOs. It is hard to imagine that they did not discuss the psychological
warfare aspects of it with their British counterparts,' Clarke said.
Clarke, who started out as a believer in UFOs but is now a sceptic, said that
the belief in alien visitation had once reached up to the highest positions
in government. Prime Minister Winston Churchill once ordered an investigation
into it and Lord Mountbatten was a firm believer in flying saucers. In the
1950s Britain set up a flying saucer working party of top Ministers and army
staff. 'That is why this field is important for academic research. It did
have an impact on government policy at a crucial stage in history,' he said.
One scrap of consolation for conspiracy theorists is evidence that the
British and US Governments did embark on a systematic cover-up of UFO
sightings, especially by military pilots. Reports were kept secret and
military personnel told not to talk about them. But Clarke believes that such
actions were taken, not to disguise contact with aliens, but because the
Government did not want to admit that it too could not explain the UFO
It is a different story now. The Observer revealed last year that the secret
army intelligence unit tasked with examining UFO reports has now quietly
THE RESIDUAL PROBLEM
I received the following e-mail about psychic medium John Edward. It reminds
me of the "residual problem," where there will always be a residual of
unexplained phenomena and anomalies that go unexplained in any field of
inquiry. My response follows:
"I've been watching Crossing Over with John Edward on and off for a couple
of months, trying to find "evidence" to prove to my wife that he is a fraud.
I find that I can explain away about 80-90% of what he says with Cold
Reading techniques. Another 10%, I say, that's pretty good, I don't know how
he jumped to that conclusion. Then there's about 5%, possibly even less,
where I say, wow! that's pretty impressive, leading me to believe he is
either truly psychic or there is some heavy-duty deception going on
(hot-reading, editing, whatever).
I checked out one of his books from the library (no, I didn't buy it), to
try to have more insight. The guy seems very genuine to me. To me, there are
inane details in the book that just aren't necessary if he's a fraud (he
rambles on & on). I think he truly believes he is talking to the dead.
So, I'm perplexed in explaining how he does it. I've seen or heard no real
evidence that debunks him. I would like to see a 20-20 / Dateline
investigation or Shermer report that would convince me. And that unexplained
5% that is so impressive really bothers me."
The fact that I cannot explain the final 5% does not relieve him of the
burden of explaining the other 95% that is obviously faked. Why accept him on
that 5%. Not all crimes are solved. If your local police department solves
95% of homicides, we do not assume that the other 5% were abducted by aliens
or killed by gremlins. We know that not all crimes can be solved. In the same
way, we know that science cannot explain all phenomena. We have to learn to
live with uncertainty. It's okay to say "I don't know." --Michael Shermer
WHAT HAPPENED TO JIMMY HOFFA?
I recently received an e-mail from an astrologer telling me that he can find
missing people. I asked him what happened to Jimmy Hoffa. Here is his
"The astrology of Jimmy Hoffa, (born 2/14/13 Brazil, Indiana), shows that at
the time he vanished (&/30/75 Lake Orion, Michigan), he was undergoing the
following three strongest transits to his birth postitions (a brief meaning
Saturn conjunct natal Neptune (fear, anxiety, disoriented, unable to discern
real from illusion);
Uranus trine natal Pluto (insight heightened, understood what was wrong with
his life, involved in matters of ultimate concern);
Mars trine natal Jupiter (optimistic, working with a positive energy, lucky),
On the day he vanished, he told friends and family that he would meet with
Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone, a reputed crime capo in Detroit, and Anthony
Provenzano, a New Jersey Teamster boss known to friends as "Tony Pro."
Both of those men have died and neither have said a word about what happened
to Hoffa, whose fate remains an unsolved mystery.
An astrology study of Hoffa's fate would require a study of those two mens'
astrology at the time Hoffa was missing. At this time those birthdates are
Hoffa was killed by a hitman. (He did not simply "take a little trip" as
Giacalone suggested upon questioning by FBI.)That is part of the truth, but
not all of it.
In that context, the primary transit in which he was unable to discern real
from illusion would mean that as Hoffa waited for the two men, he was
probably approached by the assigned hit man, and he was unable to be certain
if the man had good intentions or not. The hit man probably asked him to
"take a little trip". Traveling in a vehicle, Hoffa was probably in grave
concern whether the man who was transporting him was in fact a friend or a
foe (Saturn conjunct natal Neptune). Hoffa would have been worried about his
relationships with the two men and whether they would indeed meet with him as
previously agreed. Perhaps the man that picked him up explained to him a
problem regarding their relationship. However, with an optimistic attitude
towards the meeting, and a determination to work positively, Hoffa would
probably go along for the "ride" (Mars trine natal Jupiter). The hit man
killed Hoffa and hid his body. Those actions would not show on Hoffa's
astrology, but possibly on the person who killed and/or ordered his murder.
Whether this was under direction of both of the two men, one of the two, or
none of them, is yet to be determined."
E-SKEPTIC FOR MAY 10, 2002
Copyright 2002 Michael Shermer, Skeptics Society, Skeptic magazine, e-Skeptic
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Church of Scientology pays judgment
Ex-member who sued 22 years ago is finally paid $8.6 million
SAN FRANCISCO, May 11 — A former Scientologist who received $8.6 million from the church this week 22 years after first suing it for mental abuse hailed the settlement Saturday as a victory that could unleash a flurry of similar lawsuits.
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