Monday 29 June 2009

9 Defendant #3: The Executive Director I

Day 4 (June 2): The onetime executive director of Scientology’s Paris Celebrity Centre, presented a vigorous defence – to the point that he had to be called to order by his own lawyer.

Having heard from the two defendants charged in connection with the vitamins used in Scientology’s Purification Rundown Judge Sophie-Hélène Château next called Alain Rosenberg.

Rosenberg founded the Celebrity Centre in 1979 and was its executive director at the time of the events in question. For this reason, he had been charged with organised fraud and complicity in the illegal exercise of pharmacy.

Judge Château, referring to the case files, told the court that Rosenberg had reached OT 7, one of the highest levels in Scientology.

During the investigation, she said, Rosenberg had confirmed the existence of a user's manual for the Personality Test at the centre of the investigation. But he had refused to provide a copy to investigators, arguing that it would be misinterpreted.

Rosenberg had also questioned the impartiality not just of some of the court-appointed experts involved in the case, but also that of one of the investigating magistrates.

Of the test itself, Rosenberg had told investigators that the reference to it having a scientific basis had no particular value. The tests, he said, were used as part of Scientology’s proselytism – to get itself known.

He had also said that as a matter of course, when a Scientologist took legal action against the movement their files were destroyed; and that Scientology had a policy of providing refunds to people who were not satisfied with their service.

No one, he said, was ever obliged to write out a success story – the documents in which members testified to the benefits of a course they had completed. On this point, he had referred investigators to Scientology’s Auditors Code.1

And he compared Scientology’s Purification Rundown to a religious ritual, such as the Muslim practice of fasting during Ramadan.

Rosenberg had also told investigators he felt that both he and Scientology in general were being victimised.

Judge Château invited him to address the court.

Rosenberg, 60 years old, was dressed in a dark suit and a light-blue shirt. With the rounded features of his face and his receding red hair, turning to grey, he could have been a distant relative of Hubbard himself – perhaps his younger brother.

In Scientology parlance, Rosenberg seemed determined to be “at cause” over – in control of – the court.

Already during the judge’s introduction, Rosenberg had stopped her, asking her to repeat something he had not heard.

Several times in the hours that followed, he interrupted and the quizzed the lawyers and judges who were questioning him – to the point that he had to be called to order not just by his own lawyer, but by one of the judges.

But he started by setting out his basic position.

“I have been a Scientologist for 30 years,” he said. “I have devoted a large part of my life to helping people,” he added. And for him, those 30 years had been a religious journey.

“I myself have contributed to Scientology and continue to do so,” he said – including buying and using the e-meter so heavily criticised in the indictment. “I have practised my religion as I should have practised it.”

Rosenberg explained why he had not been willing to give the investigating magistrate his full cooperation.

“He never admitted that Scientology was a religion,” said Rosenberg. The magistrate had always viewed Scientology as a kind of psychotherapy. “So there was prejudice.”

As another example of what he and his fellow believers had to contend with, he recalled the comments a short time earlier by Stéphane Lange, the inspector from France’s health products watchdog (AFSSAPS).2

“I have just heard from an expert who said we were charlatans,” said Rosenberg. “And all that because he is an expert – but not an expert in religion.”

“I am a man of the church…”

Scientology was made up of a multitude of different elements, he continued: and while it might be Anglo-Saxon in its form, it had a lot in common with mainstream religions. It was a church that took a modern form: its structure reflected its American roots and recent origins.

“My role is as coordinator of ecclesiastical activities,” he said. There was no secret about that: Scientology’s organisational chart was there for all to see.

But you are at the top of that chart, said Judge Château.

So far as the organisational chart for the Celebrity Centre was concerned, said Rosenberg, the term “directeur général” was an unfortunate translation because it gave the impression of someone who was managing a business.3

But that Anglo-Saxon term did not mean he was involved in the day-to-day running of the centre, he said. “It is important to know this because the organisation is the expression of our religion.”

Rosenberg outlined the structure of the Celebrity Centre: its various divisions, each of which had its own chief. “We attach great importance to the correct procedures of our religion,” he said.

“I assure the coordination. My main role is to ensure that the teachings are available to the people so people can benefit from the teaching in the best conditions possible.”

But that excluded anything that had to do with financial or legal matters, he said.

“Apart from that, I do the major rites,” he said, celebrating major events in the Scientology calendar such as the birthday of the founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

“I am a man of the church, and a man of the church is not the managing director of a commercial business,” he said. “I don’t decide things: the Church does.”His work was confined to his role as a pastoral adviser, as someone who led the major rites, such as marriages, and who ensured that the teachings were applied in an orthodox manner.

“I don’t take care of the financial part,” he said. “I could have done a lot of things in life: if I chose to be a religious person it was so I wouldn’t have to do things that I could do elsewhere.”4

Judge Château asked him about his denial of any links to Eric Aubry, who had been one of the plaintiffs in the case until he settled with Scientology. Aubry, in one of his success story letters, had mentioned shaking his hand.

“I never shook his hand,” said Rosenberg. “I don’t even know him.”

Aubry had meant it in a positive way, said Judge Château. “He presents it as a great honour.” For Aubry, Rosenberg had been the most senior figure at the Celebrity Centre.

Rosenberg maintained his position: Aubry was mistaken if he thought he had any executive powers. “If I took care of the finances, I would have said so.”

“But you have a great importance at the heart of the Celebrity Centre,” said the judge.

“Obviously, people know me,” said Rosenberg. “I set up the Celebrity Centre. Yes, I am known – I read the sermons, I carry out the marriages… so obviously I am someone in view. But I am certainly not the managing director.”

Test measures 'spiritual' growth

Judge Château turned to the personality tests: what was their role in Scientology, she asked? What was their importance?

“There are many different ways of becoming a Scientologist,” said Rosenberg. These days, he said, most new arrivals came to the movement via books or DVDs, he said.

And although the test was not systematically done at the beginning of one’s experience in Scientology, they were used during one’s progress through Scientology.

But the tests were handed out on the street, said the judge. “Why are people given them at the start?” she asked.

That was simply to introduce people to Scientology, said Rosenberg.

But it was not presented as Scientology at the start, said the judge. The leaflets mentioned Dianetics, but not Scientology, she said.

Rosenberg did not know why the leaflets had been marked as Dianetics: perhaps because Hubbard’s first book in this area had been Dianetics, he suggested. In any case, the test was available on Scientology’s website.

Rosenberg’s fellow defendants had for the most part kept their answers more or less to the point. Rosenberg however had a tendency to fall into extended lectures.

After a discourse on the benefits of Scientology, the spiritual path, the rights to freedom of religion, he finally returned to the judge’s original question about the personality test.

“It is the same programme throughout the world, for everyone,” he said. “The test is analysed by the computer for everyone in the same way, without intervention by anyone.”

Including new arrivals, asked the judge?

“The new arrivals – there are perhaps one or two who are going to be taken to talk about the test,” said Rosenberg.

And the personality test was also available at the entrance to the Celebrity Centre, where it was perfectly obvious you were in a church “because it is marked everywhere,” he added.

Whether or not Scientology had been marked on the test leaflet, his point was that once you were inside the Celebrity Centre, where people came to get their test results, it was impossible not to see that you were in a church.

“Sometimes people don’t want to admit to themselves they are in a religion,” said Rosenberg.

The staff at reception explained the main principles of Scientology to newcomers: that man was a spiritual being, that there were different facets of existence. And they would explain the test too, he said.

It shows that you can improve on a spiritual level,” he explained: for the less aware you are the less well you are.

Promotion 'is the right to spiritual health'

But had not Hubbard himself spoken of the tests as a means of promotion that had been shown to be effective, asked the judge?

Which document was that, asked Rosenberg: from which period? The reference was to a document dating back to 1960.

Whatever the document was, Rosenberg appeared to think it required a great deal of explaining.5

“It is an administrative document,” said Rosenberg. “You have to look at the intention of the founder… he wants to attract people into Scientology.”

This document had been intended for the South African church back in the 1960s and had to be seen in that context, he said.

He asked again for the wording of the document. “It is not at all a good translation,” he said. “It has a certain historical value.”

But when he began answering in religious terms, the judge reminded him they were talking about a document that dealt with the personality test as a method of promoting Scientology.

It is normal that as a religious man, I give the response of a religious person,” he replied.

Still referring to same document, Judge Château continued to question Rosenberg, who seemed determined not to lose the initiative – to the point where he began interrupting her.

What is the sentence that bothers you?” he asked at one point.

The document the judge had cited had historical value, he said. “Obviously we are going to be inspired by these documents, even if we don’t believe it in quite that way.”

But this document had been superseded by another one written in 1972.

There is nothing in my religion or in the writings of Ron Hubbard that I cannot explain,” he said.

Judge Château asked about how the test was analysed.

We think that to be a believer you have to have faith in yourself,” said Rosenberg.

If someone scored poorly in one part of the personality test, you were not going to insist on that part: the point was that you could improve it, he said.

In the past, there had been a lot of documents in the Scientology canon that were not Hubbard’s, said Rosenberg.

Rosenberg blamed the “apostate” Roger Gonnet – a former Scientologist turned campaigner against the movement – for having provided the court with texts that were no longer valid.

“Now we have the doctrine in its purity,” he said.

It was easy to misinterpret the older documents, but there was nothing untoward about the personality test. “It is mostly to ensure that you are progressing spiritually,” he said.

The idea that the test was a central part of Scientology blew its importance out of all proportion, said Rosenberg. One could perfectly well go straight to Scientology auditing without having done it.

The test helped a person become more aware: it opened up a dialogue, communication. But he added: “It is not the test that is determinant.”

So why bother with the test, asked Judge Château?

I don’t know,” Rosenberg replied. “Scientologists have faith. They do it much, much less now.”

'You cannot put a price on… spiritual freedom'

Judge Château turned to the question of whether the centre’s staffers took an interest in the financial status of newcomers.

One of the original plaintiffs, Eric Aubry, had said that during an auditing session, he had been asked about his bank accounts.

If Aubry had discussed financial matters during his auditing it was because he had had an emotional need to do so, said Rosenberg. Scientologists certainly did not seek this kind of information.

And what about this talk of donations or gifts (dons) rather than prices asked the judge?

You cannot put a price on freedom of conscience, on spiritual freedom,” said Rosenberg.

But Eric Aubry, the plaintiff Aude-Claire Malton and even Pierre Auffret – who had refused to file a complaint because he did not believe he had been wronged – had all spoken not in terms of giving a gift but making a payment.

These three cases are different,” said Rosenberg.

A person should have the impression that they are giving,” said Judge Château.

All Scientologists have the conviction that they are giving,” said Rosenberg. But in any case, he added, the prices were not his domain.

And what about the reports that newcomers were pressured to buy immediately to avoid having to pay a higher price later, asked the judge?

I don’t take care of prices,” said Rosenberg. “They are fixed in the computer.”

Judge Château turned to the financial problems that Eric Aubry had experienced.

Why have someone pay for courses three to four years in advance, taking out heavy credit at exorbitant rates of interest knowing that this would only bring them more problems – when you say you want to bring them spiritual happiness?

I had nothing to do with these three cases,” said Rosenberg.

So speak about the principle of paying in advance,” said the judge.

Rosenberg offered the example of a seminarian who would pay in advance for his religious schooling, but the judge did not seem convinced.

Five years in advance?” she asked.

It was a practice that all Scientologists knew, said Rosenberg. This court was dealing with three particular cases, but for a Scientologist the practice posed no problem.

I am posing a theoretical question,” said Judge Château.

It is not the purpose of the church to get people into trouble,” said Rosenberg.

There, we agree,” said the judge (“Là, on est d’accord”).

But in response to the judge’s theoretical question, he said: “If this caused somebody financial trouble – and this is not my role – I would not do it.”

But this side of the centre’s work was not part of his duties, he stressed.

Judge Château raised the issue of grants, which she had already discussed with another defendant, Jean-François Valli.6

It was not in fact a subsidy, said the judge: it was more a matter of “We are going to give you a preferential price.”

But the results in terms of their spirituality had a positive effect on the rest of their life, said Rosenberg.

But that doesn’t answer the question,” said the judge.

Next in the series: 10 The Executive Director II
1   One of its clauses says that an auditor, the Scientologist running an auditing or counselling session, must not evaluate the experience of the person being audited.
2   In fact to be more precise, Lange referred to the the Purification Rundown as quackery, or charlatanism. See 7: The Purification Rundown.
3   The French phrase used, “directeur général”, is normally translated as managing director. So far as I can see though, the post listed at the top of the English version of the Org chart is “Executive Director”. Thanks to Caroline Letkeman for supplying me with an English copy.
4   It emerged during the course of the trial that Rosenberg ran a successful clothing business.
5   The only 1960 document that I can find that fits the bill is the Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter October 28, 1960: New Testing Promotion Section. The bulletin’s opening sentence corresponds to the judge’s summary: “For some time Orgs have used testing as a promotional means. It has been found that this is a good, reliable method of getting people to come in.” There is a reference to the techniques being used successfully in South Africa, as Rosenberg mentioned. Thanks to Roger Gonnet for confirming that this is one of the documents he sent to the investigating magistrate.

Sunday 21 June 2009

15 Former lieutenants denounce Miscavige

Hats off to the St Petersburg Times: by getting two of David Miscavige’s key former lieutenants to go public on the violence and abuse at the top of Scientology, they have taken the story mainstream.

Mark Rathbun and Mike Rinder, two former lieutenants of Scientology’s leader David Miscavige, have gone public on abuses at the top of Scientology.

Their revelations appear in the first of a three-part series in The St Petersburg Times, Florida, by Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin

Rathbun, Rinder and at least two other well-placed sources, go into key aspects of the movement’s workings: from Miscavige’s violence to the controversial IRS tax deal.

Rathbun was once the movement’s Inspector General of the Religious Technology Center (RTC) and for years Miscavige’s right-hand man.

Rinder used to be the movement’s chief spokesman and was a former Executive Director of the Office of Special Affairs (OSA).

As anyone who has studied Scientology knows, the OSA is among other things, the movement’s dirty tricks department.

In the 1980s it took over from the old Guardian’s office after 11 GO members – including Mary Sue Hubbard, the wife of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard – were jailed for a massive spying operation on the US federal institutions.

Figuratively speaking then, both men know where the bodies lie.

This first part of the series confirms the violence that Miscavige has meted out to senior officers: abuse that this site and others have already reported.

Mark Rathbun goes over the campaign of harassment that convinced the Internal Revenue Service to reverse its policy and recognise Scientology as a church, a non-profit organisation, for tax purposes.

And among the revelations promised in part two are details of how Scientologists “botched the care” of Lisa McPherson.

McPherson's death in 1995 was the subject of extensive litigation – and an unsuccessful criminal investigation that was itself mishandled.

Scientology of course, has done its best to discredit the messengers, drawing on past statements from Mike Rinder in which he vehemently denied Miscavige’s violence.

They have quoted written attestations from Rathbun in which he sings the praises of Miscavige, the man he is now denouncing.

(This sounds strangely familiar: at the recently completed Paris trial, the defence pointed to success stories written by the plaintiffs during their time in Scientology in a bid to undermine their subsequent complaints. They denied such testimonials were effectively compulsory.)

For Scientology, Rathbun and Rinder are simply embittered apostates trying to shift the blame for their incompetence on to Miscavige.

The problem with this line is that Rathbun admits that he does not walk away from the movement with clean hands.

“…I freely admit I got dirt on my hands, and I feel terrible about it,” Rathbun tells the Times.

Rathbun, unlike at least one of the more thuggish former members I can think of, appears to have misgivings about what he has done in the name of Scientology.

To a certain extent, his credibility – and that of Rinder’s – will rest on how much they are prepared to own up to themselves.

For both men were too high up in Scientology’s hierarchy not to be privy to some of its worst abuses.

But hats off to the Times: if anyone was going to get the big fish to talk it’s only fair that it should be this newspaper.

They have been covering Scientology since it arrived in St Petersburg in 1975.

They had to put up with its dirty tricks at a time when going up against the movement was a far more perilous proposition than it is today.

Times reporters Charles Stafford and Bette Orsini picked up a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage back in 1980.

And in 1998, the Times even managed to get a rare interview with Miscavige himself.

The man who pulled off that scoop was Thomas C. Tobin – one of the co-authors of this new series.
Don’t miss the video report and interviews with Rathbun and Amy Scobee at the Times website.

Monday 15 June 2009

Paris trial: what the prosecution wants

Just a brief update on the trial because I won't get to it in my coverage for a good while yet...Coverage will resume shortly.

The prosecution is asking for the "dissolution des personnes morales" -- which is to say they want the two Scientology organisations in the dock -- the Celebrity Centre of the L'Association spirituelle de l'Eglise de Scientologie (ASES) and the bookshop Scientologie espace librairie (SEL) -- to be shut down.

Update: because of a change to the law introduced just before the trial, this option is in fact not available to the court, even if parliament corrected what the government says was a mistake the week after it was discovered. See "The Great Escape?" for more details.

They also want the two organisations to be fined two million euros each.

For the six individual defendants, they asked for fines and in four cases suspended sentences:

- for Alain Rosenberg, the managing director of the Celebrity Centre, 150,000 euros and a four-year suspended sentence;
- for Didier Michaux, their star salesman, 50,000 euros and a three-year suspended sentence;
- for Jean-François Valli, the other salesman, 25,000 euros and a three-year suspended sentence;
- for Sabine Jacquart, who was president of the Celebrity Centre, 10,000 euros and a two-year suspended sentence;
- for Aline Fabre, who managed the Purification Rundown, and for Marie-Anne Pasturel, who as agent for G&G in France took orders for the vitamins, 2,000-euro fines.

The lawyers for the plaintiffs did their summing up today too and the hearing took place in a packed courtroom.

The defence will plead tomorrow and Wednesday and then the panel of judges will consider their verdict and any sentences. The judgement will be delivered on October 27, 10.00 am Paris time.

It is worth noting that when the investigating magistrate was putting this case together, the prosecutor at the time had said there was no case to answer.

Sunday 14 June 2009

8 A Cure for Radiation

Day 4 (June 2): Scientology's Purification Rundown – combining exercise, sauna sessions and massive doses of vitamins – is not just a religious ritual but can also cure radiation, one defendant told the court.

Before calling the next defendant, Judge Sophie-Hélène Château summarised the investigation to date into Scientology’s Purification Rundown.

The programme, devised by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, involves large doses of vitamins, periods of running and hours in the sauna.

Many of those who signed up for it had been directed by Scientologists at the centre to buy the vitamins required from G&G, which imported them from the Netherlands, said the judge.

Yet the same products could have been bought more cheaply at a Paris pharmacy.

Referring to court papers, Judge Château noted that during the investigation many of those questioned about G&G had been evasive about the links the business had with the Celebrity Centre in Paris.

Investigating magistrate Jean-Christophe Hullin had tried to find out more about G&G from the Dutch authorities, but having received no response to his inquiries had abandoned that line of investigation.1

The Supervisor

Judge Château called defendant Aline Fabre to the stand. Fabre, dressed plainly, seemed tense and nervous. She spoke quickly when she answered the questions put to her.

Fabre’s work at the Celebrity Centre had included acting as the supervisor of the Purification Rundown. That was why she was on trial for illegal exercise of pharmacy.

When questioned by investigators, she had described the programme as a religious ritual comparable to fasting in other religions. And she had argued that under European Union law the vitamins and other products required were available on open sale as food supplements.

She had also denied any suggestion that the Purification Rundown was dangerous. In any case, she argued, a medical certificate was required before anyone started do the programme.

As for her personal experience of the programme, she credited the Purification Rundown with having cleared away a kind of “mental fog” that had prevented her from thinking clearly.

She had supervised hundreds of people through the programme who had emerged perfectly satisfied, she added: she had only known two complaints about it.

Fabre had stressed that her job was to ensure that Rundown participants followed the instructions set out in the book Clear Body, Clear Mind, by Hubbard.

But Judge Château recalled the problems that plaintiff Aude-Claire Malton had experienced during the Rundown, including stomach cramps and perpetual fatigue.

She mentioned too, Malton’s reservations concerning the rather home-made packaging in which the G&G products had come and their unpleasant smell, which had made her reluctant to take them.

Did the medical check-up for participants include tests to see if they had any vitamin deficiencies, Judge Château asked Fabre?

“Before taking the programme, each person has to read the details of the programme, including the doses,” said Fabre.

Participants also had to ensure that they had eaten and slept well before starting the programme, she added.

And of the doctor's visit, she said: “The person goes to see him and explains what he is going to do. The doctor must determine if there could be contra-indications.”

'Nobody ever spoke of hallucinations'

When Judge Château asked about any training Fabre might have had to carry out her duties, Fabre said that she had read Clear Body, Clear Mind. (She had also been trained in animal biology, she added – but that had nothing to do with this work.)

Were the doses taken during the Rundown the same for everyone, asked Judge Château?

She did not decide the doses to be handed out, said Fabre: it was all in the table in Hubbard’s book: “You follow the table.”

But what happened when people reported feeling uncomfortable, the judge asked?

“If someone has a cramp because they didn’t eat enough then obviously you will correct that,” said Fabre.

Nobody ever spoke of hallucinations.”

Judge Château went over the issue of the medical clearance.

Scientologists provided participants with a questionnaire, a list of possible conditions, to take to their doctor. The doctor was then expected to tick off any relevant conditions such as diabetes or liver problems.

“I am a bit surprised,” the judge confessed. How was the doctor supposed to know about the large doses of vitamins involved?

The person could show the doctor the doses as set out in the table in Hubbard’s book, said Fabre.

“But what is there in the certificate to show that the doctor knows about it?” asked the judge.

“I think the doctor had already seen several people who had done the programme,” said Fabre.

And what happened if the doctor said the patient had a vitamin deficiency, asked Judge Château? Did you change the dose?

“No,” said Fabre. “It is not me who decides the dose.”

“Could it not be dangerous to give these vitamins at a fixed level, as you yourself said, and without any knowledge of pharmacology?” asked the judge.

That was for the doctor to decide, said Fabre.

Judge Château mentioned the experience of Eric Aubry. (Aubry was one of the plaintiffs who had settled with Scientology and withdrawn his complaint before the case came to trial. But his testimony remained on file.)

During the initial investigation, Aubry had described how he had become delirious and experienced hallucinations during the Rundown.

What concerned the judge was that the instructions in Hubbard’s book appeared to be that participants should keep going to the end of the programme.

Had Fabre ever had to deal with these kinds of hallucinatory states in participants?

“I have never known that,” said Fabre. “M. Aubry never spoke of hallucinations. Nobody ever spoke of hallucinations. But if anyone ever had a problem with that, I would advise them to go and see a doctor.”

And what about the difficulties that Aude-Claire Malton had experienced: the stomach cramps, the flushing, the extreme fatique, asked the judge?

“I remember Mme Malton as being very happy,” said Fabre. “She stopped when she felt liberated. I remember that she was very happy, she felt very light.”

Fabre stressed that the five hours daily in the sauna was a maximum figure. And in any case, she said: “They don’t stay there all the time.” Participants were free to leave the sauna for breaks of up to 30 minutes and to take drinks to re-hydrate themselves.

Of her personal experience of the programme, she said: “I felt a great sense of liberation.”

But the judge persisted. Aude-Claire Malton had spoken of feeling completely washed out: “Are there not risks of negative effects if you persist?”

“This fatigue I never observed at the time,” said Fabre. “It is not at all what Mme Malton and M. Aubry talked about at the time. They talked about an immense energy at the end – which is in fact what people feel.”

A cure for radiation

For the plaintiffs, Maître Olivier Morice wanted to know why Fabre had sent Aude-Claire Malton to Marie-Anne Pasturel, the French intermediary for G&G – and another of the plaintiffs.

She had done so simply because that was to whom she had gone when she herself bought the ingredients for her Rundown, said Fabre. “So I just got out my address book.”

And if all the instructions were all in Hubbard’s book, what was her role during the Rundown, asked Morice?

To maintain the premises and to provide drinks when requested, said Fabre. “Sometimes people have things to communicate… because it is a spiritual programme,” she added.

Morice, exasperated, noted that every time the defendants were asked about the vitamins they started talking about spirituality.

Maud Morel-Coujard, one of the two prosecutors, asked Fabre about Aude-Claire Malton’s account of the Rundown. Malton had described how participants were handed their doses of red, blue and yellow pills by the supervisor.

No, said Fabre. “They prepare the doses themselves.” She just made sure that they had everything they needed, that they took breaks from the sauna when they needed to and kept drinking so they did not dehydrate.

Malton had also spoken about how, during her experience of the Rundown, there were at times as many as six people in the sauna.

“It didn’t go well because the atmosphere was not good,” Malton had said.

Fabre disagreed. “For me, there is a very good atmosphere,” she said. While there might sometimes be the odd dispute, that was very rare, she added.

Morel-Coujard also asked her about reports that children had done the Rundown.

“It is very rare that a child does it,” said Fabre. But if a child wanted to do the Rundown and the parents agreed, then they could.

And was that indicated in the book, asked Morel-Coujard? No, said Fabre.

Had people ever come back from their doctor saying they had been refused clearance to do the programme or the programme had been criticised, asked Morel-Coujard? Yes, said Fabre.

“Contra-indications are very rare,” she added – though doctors did sometimes raise objections to the running part of the programme.

And what margin of manoeuvre was there on how many vitamins were taken?

“If a person has a problem with the dose of vitamins, they can be carried over to the next day,” said Fabre.

The prosecutor pressed her on how much discretion she had as supervisor, how much of an active role she played during the programme.

“If someone has a problem, I will look at the book with them,” she replied.

“You never interpret?” asked Morel-Coujard. No, said Fabre: that was forbidden.

And did Hubbard deal with the different tolerances that people might have to vitamins, asked the prosecutor?

“The doctors determine that,” said Fabre. “If ever there is a problem the person goes back to the doctor. It is not me who changes anything at all.”

Morel-Coujard asked Fabre about claims that Hubbard had made that the Rundown could eliminate radiation from the body.2

Yes, said Fabre. “It can also eliminate radiation from the body.”

She said she had seen signs of toxins coming out of the body, when the marks of somebody’s swimming costume had appeared on their body during the sweating process in the sauna.

For the defence, Maître François Jacquot reminded the court that Fabre was being questioned about what was a religious rite, but that in any case, the Rundown did require a medical certificate.

And while some of the programme’s participants had ordered the necessary products from G&G others, at least eight people interviewed during the investigation, had got their products elsewhere.

Questioned by Jacquot, Fabre confirmed that she had been supervising the programme for 15 years; that she had done it herself and had experienced its benefits.

She only wanted other people to share those benefits, said Fabre. “I really want people to experience this… to have the stable state I have had since I did it.”

People had real breakthroughs during the Rundown, she said: they became aware of things they had not previously understood.

She described the sauna itself as being about 11 or 12 square metres (130 square feet), with different levels to sit, depending on how much heat you could take.

Earlier, Morice had asked if his client Aude-Claire Malton could be allowed to speak again and now Judge Château recalled her to the stand.

Morice asked her about the table that Fabre had mentioned listing the vitamin doses to take.

“I don’t remember a table for taking these vitamins,” said Malton.

Judge Château asked her about what literature she had consulted for the Rundown.

“The book I had was an illustrated book showing how the Purification Rundown went, but I don’t remember a book with a table,” Malton replied.

“Mme Fabre gave you the vitamins – and I don’t remember taking a book to the doctor,” she added.

So how could they make a proper assessment, the judge wondered?

At this point it emerged that although candidates for the Rundown were free to go to their own doctor, there was a doctor to whom many were sent who was perfectly familiar with the programme.

Fabre returned to the stand and Maître Olivier Saumon, the lawyer for the National Council for the Order of Pharmacists, asked her if the medical tests for candidates involved blood or urine tests. No, said Malton: they did not.

The Go-Between

Now Judge Château called Marie-Anne Pasturel, another of the defendants, to the stand. Pasturel, a well-groomed woman in her mid-to-late 40s, seemed a little bemused at her presence in court.

“I don’t really see what I’m doing here,” she said. G&G had proposed that she act as their intermediary and she had agreed. People would phone her or leave a message on her answering machine and she would pass on the orders.

“It was a part-time job,” she explained, a supplement to her regular job selling advertising. All she earned from it was between 500 and 2,000 francs (75-300 euros) a month.

Pasturel confirmed that she had done the Purification Rundown herself and that she knew Fabre.

Did she have any training concerning vitamins, asked the judge? No, said Pasturel.

“Nobody ever asked questions,” she said. “People just placed orders.”

“So you thought you could sell vitamins like you could sell potatoes?” asked Judge Château.

“I just passed on the orders,” Pasturel replied. And you never asked any questions, asked the judge? No, she said.

Judge Château, referring to the case files, noted that some of the advertising for G&G said they could cure illness, that they constituted an “effective treatment”.

That was legal in the Netherlands, said Pasturel.

“But we are in France,” said the judge. “In the Netherlands, you can buy hashish in the coffee shops. You should bear that in mind.”

Pasturel replied that she had had no idea at the time that what she had been doing might be illegal.

Maître Saumon, for the Order of Pharmacists, asked her if she had not checked with anybody about the situation in France, she asked?

She had put a few questions, said Pasturel. But she added: “For me, it was just a favour I was doing for friends.”

“But it was a paid service,” said Saumon.

Yes, said Pasturel, but she explained: “A lot of people didn’t want to phone to the Netherlands.”

Having a French phone number to call reassured them that there would not be any language problems, she said. “A lot of people think that they can’t speak French (in the Netherlands).”

Questioned further however, she said that she had been able to place the orders in French.

Questioned by Maître Morice, she confirmed that she had stopped the work in 1999 because she had thought it might be a problem.

“French law seemed confused and I didn’t want to take the risk,” she said.

Following up on this point, prosecutor Nicolas Baïetto asked Pasturel why, after having acted for G&G between 1993 and 1999, she had suddenly changed her mind.

“What happened to make you make you realise there might be a problem?” he asked.

“Nothing in particular,” said Pasturel.

Potentially dangerous doses

Later in the trial, at the start of the fifth day, Dr Véronique Brion, a specialist in clinical pharmacology, appeared as a witness for the two plaintiffs, Aude-Claire Malton and Nelly Reziga.

She had been asked to examine the vitamins that Malton had been given for the Purification Rundown. Her view was that the doses were far too high to be described as food supplements.

Taken at high doses, she said, Vitamin A could be toxic. She also thought the doses of calcium taken together with the vitamins were potentially dangerous.

She could not see how taking vitamins at the levels required by the Rundown could be justified – especially given that the one’s daily vitamin needs could be obtained from a normal diet.

Aude-Claire Malton had reported problems during her 13 days on the Purification Rundown, a programme combining running, high doses of vitamins and hours in a sauna.

Malton’s account of stomach cramps, a skin rash and sleeping difficulties leading to constant fatigue seemed perfectly coherent with what she had been through on the programme, said Dr Brion.

Maître Olivier Saumon, asked her opinion of an account of a purification programme set up for New York fire fighters in following the 9/11 attacks, identical to the one used in Scientology.

The defence had supplied dramatic details of fire fighters’ experiences on the programme, which was devised by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Their sweat had turned black, blue, violet and yellow, said Saumon. One account had spoken of particles of sand emerging from a subject’s eyes.

Saumon, representing the National Council for the Order of Pharmacists, plaintiffs in the case, was clearly not looking for an enthusiastic endorsement.

What did Dr Brion make of such accounts, he asked?

Dr Brion looked uncomfortable. As a scientist, it was difficult for her to judge or analyse a phenomenon that she could not check, she said. She had never heard of the phenomena as described.

But then it was true that vitamins could change the colour of one’s urine, so perhaps the accounts were not so astonishing, she added.

Next in the series: “A Man of the Church
1   From subsequent testimony, it emerged G&G is an English company, based at East Grinstead, the nearest town to Scientology’s Saint Hill base. It was set up by veteran Scientologists David and Sheila Gaiman. (

2   If the prosecutor cited a reference here, I missed it. But Hubbard made these claims in a 1957 book All About Radiation. He provided a formula for a vitamin mix called Dianazene, of which he said:
Dianazene runs out radiation – or what appears to be radiation. It also proofs a person up against radiation in some degree. I have seen it run out skin cancer. A man who didn’t have much liability to skin cancer (only had a few moles) took Dianazene. His whole jaw turned into a raw mass of cancer. He kept on taking Dianazene and it disappeared after a while. I was looking at a case of cancer that might have happened.
There is another instance of somebody who had a little bit of colitis which worried him slightly from time to time. After taking Dianazene he started to bleed from the intestines. He kept on taking this formula and came out without colitis. He may have been facing an eventual colitis of a fatal nature — hemorrhages. The whole point in taking Dianazene is to keep taking it until bad effects vanish.
All About Radiation, pp. 123-124
It was on the strength of such claims that the US Food and Drugs Administration raided Scientology premises and confiscated 21,000 Dianazene tablets (see Jon Atack's A Piece of Blue Sky, Part Three, Chapter Five, “The Religion Angle”).
As more than one commentator has pointed out, you cannot “run” radiation out of the border, nor cure cancer with vitamins. But not only is the science wrong, the above passage shows another disturbing tendency. He insists on pushing on with the treatment, despite whatever symptoms appear. He had a term for this, in the context of auditing, Scientology's version of therapy: “The way out is the way through.” For the Purification Rundown, a programme run by people with no medical qualifications, this is clearly a recipe for disaster.