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.


  1. This is an old story, but as long as Rathbun et al. are singing "I love LFH," and maintaining their willful delusion that it is all the the evil usurpers' fault, they will never effectively come clean, with the result that their crimes -- which are the crimes of SCN under their watch -- will remain hidden.

  2. You're right Ironspring, it is old: but I did publish this more than three years ago (check the date at the top). I agree too, about the need for Rathbun et al. to stop deluding themselves about Hubbard's central role in the abusive nature of Scientology (a point I've made on more than one occasion here). For more on that, see 17: Taking it back to Source, in the right-hand column below. I will shortly be publishing more on the early days of the Sea Org and Hubbard's behaviour during that period, from another eye-witness. Thanks for visiting.