Scientology is here to rescue you.
- L. RON HUBBARD
Hubbard's last will and testament, dated the day before his death, held no surprises. He left an unspecified amount of money, the bulk of his fortune, to the "Author's Trust Fund B." Norman Starkey, a founding Sea Org member, became Hubbard's executor. He had been president of Author Services Inc., which marketed Hubbard's published works, since January 1983.
Hubbard disinherited his oldest son, Nibs, and his daughter by Sara, Alexis. Both were later paid settlements, Nibs having threatened litigation. To Scientologists Hubbard bequeathed only "my love and continued support, and my hopes for a better world." Secret provisions were made for his wife, Mary Sue, whom he had chosen not to see for the last six years of his life, and for her three surviving children. Provision was also made for Nibs' sister, Catherine.
In July 1986, a Los Angeles jury awarded $30 million in damages to ex-Scientologist Larry Wollersheim, who claimed that the Church had jeopardized his mental health and deliberately ruined his business. The jury also ruled that the Church must pay $45 million into the Court before they would be allowed to appeal. In July 1989, the California Court of Appeal upheld a ruling in Wollersheim's favor, repeating the earlier court's statement that he had been subjected to the Fair Game Law by the Church of Scientology. However, the award was adjusted to $2.5 million.
In a surprise move in December 1986, the Church settled every case brought against them through Boston attorney Michael Flynn. They also settled out of court with former Mission Holder Martin Samuels, and with Julie Christofferson-Tichboume. In a secret agreement, the plaintiffs agreed not to make any further public statements about Scientology, nor to disclose the amount of their settlements. When the document finally leaked out, it contained an interesting clause, saying that the amounts paid in settlement depended in part upon the" length and degree of harassment" each plaintiff had received. The payments amounted to almost $4 million, with Armstrong taking $800,000, and Flynn $1,075,000. For that price the Scientologists bought the silence of their most significant opponents. With the Armstrong settlement, the Hubbard archives material which had been held under seal was returned to the Scientologists. The contents of the Affirmations, the Blood Ritual, and Hubbard's letters to his three wives may never be published; but there is enough historical evidence now in the public record to show Hubbard for what he was. If a piece is broken from a hologram the entire image remains in the fragment. Hubbard too is implicit in every detail of his life, even in some of his most public utterances.
Michael Flynn fought against the Church for seven years. In doing so he spent a great deal of his own money, put his career in jeopardy, faced an unceasing barrage of invective and libel, and had to defend (and managed to win) some fourteen legal complaints brought against him by the Church. He gave succour to many ex-Scientologists.
When Flynn settled, he gave all of his Scientology files (apart from client material) to the Church. But he had tried to ensure that the good fight would continue.
Throughout 1986, a group of over 400 former Scientologists gathered to create a Class Action against the Church. They called themselves Freedom for All In Religion, or FAIR. Michael Flynn was closely involved in the initial preparation of their Complaint.
On the last day of 1986, a few weeks after Flynn announced his withdrawal from the fight, the FAIR suit was filed in Los Angeles. It was filed not only against the Church of Scientology, but against its leading executives. There were three causes in the Complaint:
a. Fraudulent representations have been made by defendants concerning their tax-exempt status and charitable nature, concerning the manner in which monies were obtained and received by L. Ron Hubbard and defendants named herein, concerning the confidentiality of defendants' auditing files, and concerning L. Ron Hubbard's background, achievements and character;
b. There has been a breach of fiduciary duty [breach of trust] to all the members of the class;
c. Plaintiffs seek equitable relief and request that a constructive trust be imposed on all pertinent assets of defendants.
A constructive trust would place the Preclear, Ethics and B-1 files of the members of FAIR into the hands of the Court until the case is settled. The suit was filed by a group of six ex-members, and demanded a billion dollars in relief. At the time of writing, after five amended Complaints, FAIR have failed to have a Complaint accepted for trial.
In April 1988, the former Inspector General of the Religious Technology Center filed a suit against various Scientology Organizations.
Vicki Aznaran was an executive during the schism, rising to become David Miscavige's immediate junior. She and her husband, Richard, left the Sea Organization in April 1987. The Aznarans' Complaint criticized the Team Member Share System operated at CMO headquarters, described as:
privately issued money in exchange for food, board, pay, bonuses and liberty. The Team Member System required that the Plaintiffs be given one of each of these cards when the Church administration was satisfied with their work production, and loyalty to the organization. Any dissatisfaction with the work output or 'attitude' of Plaintiffs would result in revocation of the tokens, thereby requiring Plaintiffs to work long hours with no days off, no pay, no board (requiring them to sleep outdoors on the ground [called 'pig berthing' in the Church issue]) and substandard nutrition comprised solely of rice, beans and water. When Plaintiffs had lost all of their cards, as a matter of course, they would be sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force for 'attitude adjustment,' which was comprised of even harsher labor, deprivation of liberty, and psychological duress forcing the submission of Plaintiffs to the power and control of Defendants.
The Aznarans had no reservations about the true intent of Church management, and described their treatment as "brainwashing," and their condition as "slave-like." Further, they asserted that the Scientologists had:
employed the following psychological devices... to cause Plaintiffs to involuntarily abandon their identities, spouses and loyalties, and deprive Plaintiffs of their independent free will .... Threats of torture; implementation of brainwashing tactics; threats of physical harm for lack of loyalty... lengthy interrogations... sudden involuntary and forceable separation of spouses from one another for many months, and depriving the spouses of communication with one another or allowing them to know where the other was located; willfully and expressly inducing divorce between Plaintiffs . . . deliberately inducing fatigue by physical abuse and deprivation of sleep; forcing Plaintiffs to be housed in animal quarters; deliberately confining Plaintiffs to premises under the control of Defendants and under threat of physical harm without allowing Plaintiffs to leave of their own free will; and threatening Plaintiffs that failure to submit to the power and control of Defendants would result in their becoming 'fair game.'
Vicki was sent on "mission" to Los Angeles in 1981 "to purge members of Defendants' organization... remove assets of Defendant Church of Scientology of California to overseas trusts where they could not be accessed by plaintiffs or the government, and set up sham corporate structures to evade prosecution generally. Richard was sent with Vicki in the capacity of a security investigator who surveilled members of the organizations associated with Defendants for the purposes of determining their loyalty and likelihood that they would testify against Defendants in pending civil and criminal suits, as well as designated 'enemies' of the Church."
In December 1981, Vicki Aznaran was assigned to Author Services Inc., a for-profit corporation using Sea Org personnel. She was "commissioned to reorganize corporate structures and effect sham sales of millions of copies of Dianetics to the corporate Defendants named herein as a vehicle for transferring assets among them."
In Spring 1982, Miscavige deprived Richard Aznaran of all his Team Member shares, and sent him to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) in Los Angeles. His pay was reduced to $1.25 per week, and he spent ninety-nine days on the RPF. Meanwhile, Vicki worked directly for Hubbard's deputy, Ann Broeker. Meetings between Vicki and Richard were prohibited, so they met surreptitiously.
The Aznarans allege that the intention in October 1982 (the time of the San Francisco Mission Holders' Conference) was "for all Scientology entities to turn over their profits to . . . Author Services, Inc." When Vicki expressed disapproval of this, she was ordered to the RPF in Hemet where, "for approximately 120 days, [she] was forced to participate in the 'running program.' The running program required Vicki and other persons subjected to the control of Defendants to run around an orange telephone pole from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m .... with ten minute rests every one-half hour, and thirty minute breaks for lunch and dinner."
In about May 1983, Vicki was "deemed rehabilitated" and ordered back to the Religious Technology Center at Gilman. Until Hubbard's death, the Aznarans remained at Gilman, when Richard was ordered to Hubbard's ranch at Creston working there as a security guard for a year and a half: "Richard was forced to falsify time cards to falsely indicate that he had been working forty hour work weeks, so as to avoid an obligation on the part of Defendants from paying him overtime ....
Richard was forced to sleep in a horse stable with several . . . other indoctrinated employees. During the course of Richard's stay at the ranch, Vicki was not told of his whereabouts, nor were Plaintiffs permitted to correspond with each other."
Most important for the future of Scientology, the Aznarans claim that "in or about February of 1987, a schism arose between Defendant Miscavige and the Broekers, each of whom claimed to possess the 'upper level Holy Scriptures' written by Hubbard."
Miscavige allegedly saw Vicki's demands for contact with her husband as an "expression of allegiance" to the Broekers. Miscavige ordered Vicki to the RPF at "Happy Valley," a "secret location bordering the Sobova Indian Reservation near Gilman . . . overseen and controlled by Defendant Norman Starkey."
Vicki was "not allowed to go anywhere or do anything without her guard being present. At night she was imprisoned by having heavy furniture moved to secure the exit .... Defendants kept, and continue to keep all of her physical belongings including a horse and two dogs."
Vicki claimed she "had seen in the past other victims of Happy Valley be beaten upon attempted escape, and their personal belongings destroyed .... Vicki and others were made to wear rags taken out of garbage cans, sleep on the ground, dig ditches."
Finally, on about April 9, 1987, "Vicki and two other victims escaped from Happy Valley onto the Sobova Indian Reservation where they were pursued on motorcycles by guards." They were rescued by the Indians.
Richard Aznaran meanwhile was urged to divorce his wife. Instead, that very month they left the Sea Org, though not the Church, and returned to Dallas, Texas, where they started a private investigation business.
The Aznarans received a "Freeloader Bill," for Scientology services they had received while in the Sea Org, amounting to $59,048.02. They say that they did not seek legal assistance until January 1, 1988, because "As a result of the psychological trauma of indoctrination techniques applied by Defendants . . . Plaintiffs were unable to comprehend their legal rights with regard to the actions of Defendants."
Fraud is among their charges: "Defendants ... knew that the practices of the so-called Church of Scientology . . . were not designed to increase the well being of any of its victims, but where [sic] made to coercively persuade each and every follower to dedicate their lives to Defendants in order for Defendants to increase their wealth derived from an overall scheme to make money founded on the exploitation of free labor .... Defendants . . . required Plaintiffs to participate in crimes against the United States Government, including the obstruction of justice and efforts to create corporate structures designed to keep payments from properly being paid to the Internal Revenue Service .... Plaintiffs were subjected to humiliation, degradation, physical labor, and imprisonment, all designed to break down their will and free thinking, and convert them into submissive, frightened and dedicated followers of Defendants."
The Aznarans also charge Breach of Contract: "Defendants . . . breached the said agreements [i.e. the provisions of the staff contract] by not providing any spiritual or psychological services, but rather, providing indoctrination, psychological coercion, duress and stress, all designed to break Plaintiffs' will so that they would remain compliant servants to Defendants for the remainder of their lives, and to the use of Defendants in furtherance of illegal conduct and money making schemes."
Invasion of Privacy is a further charge: "Plaintiffs were forced to participate in 'counselling sessions' in which they were forced to reveal that [sic] their innermost private thoughts and feelings." It was, of course, represented that these would be held in confidence, but "In April, 1987... Defendants... read the private file of Plaintiff Vicki J. Aznaran .... Defendants . . . demanded that Vicki then publicly disclose and give further details concerning further events they had learned from said file concerning various other victims of Defendants. Vicki was advised, warned and threatened that if she did not give further details, Defendants, and each of them, would 'get it out of you one way or another.'"
The Complaint is a devastating indictment of the methods and motives of the current Scientology leadership.
In the month the Aznarans filed their Complaint, April 1988, the truth of their allegations about a rift at the top of Scientology were confirmed. David Miscavige, by this time both a captain in the Sea Org and the head of the Religious Technology Center, issued a Flag Order making the issue clear. He asserted that the Broekers had forged Hubbard's last published Order, promoting themselves to the command of the Sea Org as "Loyal Officers."
Miscavige cancelled the new rank, saying that Pat Broeker had simply been part of Hubbard's domestic staff. The Broekers were "under standard justice handling" and were "being dealt with appropriately." However while canceling the supposed forgery, Miscavige made no mention of the rank given to Hubbard in it, so Hubbard remained an admiral, promoted, so it would seem, by a member of his domestic staff.
In June 1988, the Scientologists' new ship, the Freewinds, took her maiden voyage, with the first public OT8 students aboard. The Freewinds is a 440-foot cruise liner capable of carrying 450 passengers, and is based in Curaçao, in the Caribbean. As yet there is no indication that the Scientologists will return to their earlier shipboard practices.
At the end of June, the Scientologists filed a Complaint against their former attorney, Joseph Yanny, accusing him of "treachery," and saying he had "joined forces with confederates to mastermind and prosecute an action." The preamble to the Complaint says "what follows is a chronicle of betrayal, deception, and conspiracy practiced by members of the bar as a vendetta against a former client, and callous disregard of fiduciary and ethical obligations." Yanny responded with a declaration alleging that he had left the services of the Church because he was asked to participate in an attempt to blackmail an attorney hostile to the Church.
At the same time, an investigating magistrate in Milan started making arrests. By September 1988, seventy-six Scientologists had been committed for trial charged with offenses ranging from fraud to medical malpractice, and taking in criminal conspiracy to extort money and unlawful detention. The Scientology drug rehabilitation group, Narconon, came in for particularly stringent criticism: "Extravagant therapies were applied which yielded no practical results other than extracting huge sums of money from the families of young people who wanted to get out of the heroin trap."
In November, Spanish police raided Scientology organizations (including Narconons) in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Seville, Jerez, Bilbao, Burgos and Ondaroa. Sixty-nine people were arrested, including the President of the Church of Scientology International, Heber Jentzsch (right). Eleven were eventually detained. The arrests followed a nine-month investigation headed by Judge Honrubia, who described Scientology as "a multinational organization whose sole aim is making quick money under the guise of doing good." The judge concurred with the Italian opinion of Narconon, saying that their establishments were dirty, run by untrained staff and were actually little more than recruitment centers for Scientology. A Scientology spokesman muttered about Spain's "fascist past," and Jentzsch accused Spain of a return to the Inquisition. He and two other nonresidents were bailed for a million dollars the next month, pending trial.
Sources: FAIR Complaint in California Superior Court, Los Angeles County, no. CA 001012; Aznaran Complaint in District Court, Central District, California, no. CV 88-1786-WDK; "Flag Order 3879 Cancelled," 18 April 1988; RTC et al. vs. Yanny et al., in California Superior Court, L.A. County, no. C690211.