Monday 30 November 2009

Paul Schofield´s Letter

Paul David Schofield described how Scientology was complicit in the cover-up of child sexual abuse – and how he helped them hide the truth about the deaths of his own daughters.

The emotional heart of Paul Schofield’s letter is his account of the deaths of his two daughters – one of them while she was in Scientology’s care – and his own complicity in covering up the truth about had happened.

Scientology has denied his account, referring to witness statements that put Schofield himself on the spot and caring for his daughter at the time of the accident.

But his story, as told in Senator Xenophon’s brief but explosive adjournment speech on November 17, has already made the tour of the world's media.

Schofield, who posts as Scooter on the Ex-Scientologist Message Board (ESMB), has told his story in more detail there. But the relatively brief account he gives in his letter is itself devastating.

“My first daughter Lauren Elizabeth Schofield was being babysat in the Sydney Church when she was allowed to wander the stairs by herself and fell…” he wrote.

Lauren died in hospital hospital two days later. She was just 14 months old.[1]

Scientology officials discouraged him and his wife from seeking compensation from the movement, he wrote: if they did, they would be refused all further services.

The movement’s executives also encouraged him not to seek a coroner’s inquiry, “…something I stupidly agreed with at that time.

“I have since heard from several people that they were told that I was responsible for my daughter as she was supposedly in my care,” he added. (That is certainly the gist of the Scientology press statement, released a few days after Senator Xenophon's speech.)

What in fact had happened was that his daughter and another toddler had been left in the care of a 14-year-old boy with a broken arm, he wrote.

“…[T]he door was next to the stairwell and the door wouldn’t close properly – my daughter pushed the door open and [she] and the other toddler ran to the stairs, pursued by this poor 14 year old.”

From this brief account, it is clear he does not hold the teenager responsible.

Scientology also put pressure on him over the death of his two-year-old daughter Kirsty, because the poison that killed her was used in one of the movement’s main programmes, he wrote.

“My second daughter Kirsty Ann Schofield died after ingesting potassium chloride at our house,” said Schofield’s letter. Her heart stopped and all efforts to revive her failed.

At the time, the movement in Sydney was using this substance in Scientology’s Purification Rundown, wrote Schofield.

This programme, devised by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, involves aerobic exercise such as running, long spells in a sauna and large doses of minerals and vitamins. A number of experts have criticised the programme as potentially dangerous – but to the best of my knowledge Hubbard never prescribed potassium chloride as part of the programme.

Schofield also knew that potassium chloride had been used at a Narconon Centre in New South Wales where he once worked. Narconon is a drug rehabilitation project linked to Scientology that uses Hubbard’s Rundown.

Schofield actually phoned a Scientology official from the hospital where his daughter had died to warn her about the substance’s lethal properties – and the fact that it was being used in Sydney’s Purification Programme.

“She told me in a subsequent phone call the very next night that she had found a bottle of the substance there and had removed it herself and forbidden its further use, and that she had sent messages to all Churches in Australia, New Zealand and Asia to make sure they too weren’t using it.”

But he did not let the news go any further, he wrote.

“I did not tell the whole truth... to the police or to the court (to my shame) but omitted details which would have ‘embarrassed’ the Church,” wrote Schofield.

He and his wife perjured themselves by concealing the link between the substance that killed their baby daughter and Scientology’s Purification Rundown as it was then being practised in Australia.

“I knew if I didn’t do this I would be heavily penalized by the Church for getting it into trouble,” he wrote.

Throughout the police investigation and the coroner’s inquiry, he added, he was in constant contact with the then head of Scientology in Australia.[2]

That same person even dictated to him the statement he read to the press before the end of the coroner’s inquiry on the steps of the court, he wrote.

Covering up child abuse

Schofield’s letter also outlined what he said was Scientology’s role in covering up – or at the very least failing to report – several cases of alleged child abuse of which he and other Scientologists were aware.

In the late 1990s, the daughter of a Scientologist parishioner – a public member paying for services – told Schofield that she and her two of her sisters had been sexually abused by their father.

This had happened to the sisters, “under the guise of ‘sex education’ from roughly the time they were twelve until they left home in their late teens/early twenties.

“The daughters had come forward to the Church about this because they were worried about their two little sisters (now fast approaching puberty) would be subjected to the same abuse they had been,” wrote Schofield.

“One of the daughters had married and left Sydney and refused to have anything to do with Scientology because of this abuse; the other two had remained with the Church.”

Scientology’s Sydney operation was informed of the situation, wrote Schofield, “but did not inform any law-enforcement to the best of my knowledge.”

Another parishioner however was turned over to the authorities for the child abuse he was committing – but only after he had fallen from grace with the movement, Schofield added.

This man had been systematically abusing his daughter, wrote Schofield: it was so well known that he had learned of it by hearing two executives in the Sydney operation “discussing it in a rather off-hand manner in a public place while I had to wait for them to finish so that I could ask one of them a question.”

This man was eventually jailed, wrote Schofield, “[b]ut the Church had sat on this information for a number of years while this man remained in ‘good standing’ with Scientology and ‘contributed’ a lot of money for services.

Schofield also wrote of two cases in which Scientologists caring for children were dismissed from their jobs after having allegedly abused the children in their care – but the incidents were never reported to the authorities.[3]

Why they stayed silent

“The rationale that I was given for the non-reporting of these offences (and one I sadly believed at the time) was that to report them would only mean they would go to jail and be made worse by psychiatric handling,” wrote Schofield.

Mainstream psychiatry is one of the principal targets of Scientology’s campaigning: they associate it with most of society’s problems and trace major atrocities such as the Holocaust and the Bosnian Civil War back to the influence of psychiatrists.

“As Scientology had all the answers to non-optimum human behaviour, it was therefore better that these matters be ‘handled’ internally,” he continued.

“I firmly believed at the time that Church justice and counselling techniques would fix all those concerned.

Schofield also summed up the fear and contempt he said many Scientologists’ had for the outside world that led him and others to remain silent on the abuse.

“There was also firm belief by most if not all Scientologists that non-Scientologists (referred to as ‘wogs’) couldn’t be trusted and ‘wog’ justice just made people worse.”

He and other Scientologists believed that governments had been corrupted by “vested interest groups (in particular the psychiatric/pharmaceutical ‘cartel’) and that nobody should trust any of these groups.

“In particular, psychiatrists would just make the offenders worse and then let them loose on… society again.

“The founder, Hubbard, said as much many times. Stupidly, I believed this.”

But Schofield also admitted that at the time he was scared of the consequences of breaking ranks and speaking out.

He spoke of the “horror stories” he had heard of what happened to former members who had turned against Scientology; the “merciless” way the movement dealt with them.

“To leave the Church not only meant that I as a Scientologist was doomed to eternal pain and suffering but I would also be chased relentlessly by the Church… my slightest misdeeds found and exposed,” he wrote.[4]

Scientology’s response

Scientology issued a statement a few days after Senator Xenophon’s speech, rejecting Schofield’s account of the death of his daughter Lauren.

Scientology spokeswoman Virginia Stewart denied Schofield’s claim that a Scientologist was babysitting his daughter when she died.

“Two witness statements attest that Lauren was in the care of her father, Paul Schofield and three teenagers, at the time of the accident.

“She was not wandering the stairs by herself but rather walked to the top of the stairs while she and a group of small children were being moved from one room to another, under close supervision,” wrote Stewart in the statement.

“Both witness statements clearly attest that Paul Schofield was a matter of a few metres from his daughter when she fell down a flight of stairs.”

In the statement, Stewart also says: “There was no attempt by Church executives to interfere in either the thorough police investigation into Lauren’s death or the full investigation by the Coroner.

“Based on detailed evidence, Deputy State Coroner Jacqueline Milledge ruled an inquest into Lauren’s death was unnecessary.”

According to Schofield of course, one reason there was no full inquest was because of the lies he told investigators at the instigation of Scientology: so Scientology’s defence rather begs the question.

It appears then, to come down to a question of who you believe.[5]

The November 23 statement does say it will be responding to other allegations in the senator’s speech, “in coming days.”

So far however, there has been no response to Schofield’s claims that Scientologists in Australia have on more than one occasion failed to report child abusers to the authorities.

Scientology failed to respond to a request for more information on this point. [6]

[1] So far as I can see, Schofield does not specify her age in his letter, but Senator Xenophon took care to include the information in his November 17 adjournment debate speech to Senate.

[2] The name of the individual concerned is deleted in the copy of the letter submitted to Senate.

[3] It is not clear how much first-hand information Schofield had on these last two cases. Given Scientology’s reputation for turning against people who leave the movement, it is always possible that these people were having their reputations trashed for having quit, rather than having been fired: see the “Dirty tricks” section of The Detheridge letters, or the “More Dirty Tricks” section of Saxton’s Letter II: the USA.

[4] For more on these tactics, see the two sections on Aaron Saxton’s letter.

[5] The Scientology statement makes no attempt to explain why, in his attack on Scientology, Schofield would be willing to incriminate himself in the cover up over the deaths of his own daughters.

[6] I contacted Scientology spokeswoman Virginia Stewart to ask about this point: as with previous attempts to get a response from the movement, I received no reply.


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  3. Hi Paul

    This story breaks my heart, but it is one of the reasons I did not sign their "shut me up" release document. There ARE children involved and we need to fight for them.

    Your Friend

    David Edgar Love

  4. How so very sad that people have to go through this in their search for meaning. Look to Jesus. He is the one who gave everything and died to set you free. Don't be tied to man's empty traditions.