Scientology Crime Syndicate

Description of video is in [brackets]. VO=VOICEOVER


[opening credits]

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, around the world and into your home, the stories that touch your life. This is "20/20 Sunday" with Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Sam Donaldson, Connie Chung, Charles Gibson, and Hugh Downs--

[clips from Scn event at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles; picture of L. Ron Hubbard]

ANNOUNCER: Tonight--a ground-breaking investigation. "20/20" goes deep inside the Church of Scientology to show you the raging controversy.

[video segment from German film crew documentary footage at Castile Canyon School]

INA BROEKMANN (from video): What's so secret of this organization? What's so secret of this area?

[aerial shot of Scn church]

ANNOUNCER: You'll meet the critics.

HANA WHITFIELD: As the door was closing behind me, I didn't know it was a trap.

[footage of Scienos walking; footage of doors opening to reveal a big picture of LRH]

ANNOUNCER: And the converted.

JOHN TRAVOLTA: I took a course and my life has never been the same.

[montage of footage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Jenna Elfman, and John Travolta; footage of Stacy Young crying]

ANNOUNCER: A movement that's attracted some of the biggest stars in Hollywood but left some people devastated.

STACY YOUNG (crying): I felt that my husband should have rescued me.

[Scn footage from auditing session]

ANNOUNCER: For the first time you'll see how disciples reach a higher state with a device called an e-meter.

WOMAN AUDITOR (from video): Thank you very much. Your needle is floating.

MAN PC: Thank you.

[footage of Scn gala party]

SCIENTOLOGIST CARTHY WEINAN (voice of and on camera): What if we have found something that works? Isn't that worth a look?

[aerial footage of Castile Canyon School; diagram of the Fort Harrison hotel; outside Scn church; Larry Wollersheim]

ANNOUNCER: But you'll hear what some say happens to those who stray. Claims of being locked away in prison camps.

LARRY WOLLERSHEIM: There was no way for anyone to reach me.

[Frank Oliver; outside of Hana Whitfield’s house; Scn HCOPL with the phrase "The purpose of a (law)suit is to harass and discourage rather than win." enlarged]

ANNOUNCER: And listen to what this man says about the dirty tricks campaign he waged against defectors.

[Scn HCOPL with the phrase "A church enemy ‘May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.’" enlarged]

FRANK OLIVER (voice of and on camera): These were enemies of the church. You find their weak spot and you expose it. You literally destroy them.

[video footage of Lisa McPherson dancing; picture of Lisa McPherson]

ANNOUNCER: Plus, disturbing accusations about the mysterious death of a young believer.

KEN DANDAR: They chose to keep her inside the hotel and watch her die.

[footage of Big Blue Scn building in Los Angeles, split screen with bust of LRH and the title L. RON HUBBARD]

ANNOUNCER: Scientology. One of the most controversial religions of our times.

JOHN TRAVOLTA: You can look at the origins of almost every religion and the first so many years are, they’re attacked.

TOM JARRIEL: Do you feel the need to defend Scientology?


[Tom Jarriel walking down steps outside with John Travolta and Kirstie Alley; picketers--some of the signs include "(top of sign clipped off) Camps in L.A.! Close the RPF!!", "Scientology vs. The Internet: www.xenu.net ", "Scientology: First Amendment Enemy", sign with picture of Lisa McPherson; cover of Time magazine "Scientology: The cult of greed" issue; aerial footage outside church compound; "20/20: logo]

ANNOUNCER: Tom Jarriel with a rare, inside look at Scientology. Persecuted religion or paranoid, secretive cult? You decide. The Church of Scientology. That story tonight, Sunday, December 20th, 1998 after this brief message.


["20/20" logo]

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News in New York, Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer.

DIANE SAWYER: Good evening and welcome to "20/20 Sunday." Tonight, in a special hour, we pull back the veil on the Church of Scientology. It is certainly one of the most controversial religions in this country, and perhaps the world. Few people outside the church know what goes on within its walls. It's a secret, carefully protected by those who believe fervently in its work.

BARBARA WALTERS: And it is unlike almost any other church. There is no worship of God. There is no bible of God's words. But those who believe say that it has changed their lives forever, for the better. Tonight, you'll hear from John Travolta and others who credit the church with helping them achieve happiness. But critics claim that Scientology is not a religion. They say it's a dangerous and paranoid cult.

DIANE SAWYER: And what exactly do they believe? It’s always a question. Well, one thing, that you're born with the memory of painful experiences from past lives. Erase them and you can be happy. Tom Jarriel has finished a year-long investigation into the Church of Scientology. Is it a misunderstood religion or a predatory cult?

[aerial footage of Scn compound in New Mexico (opening credits listing names of people who worked on the segment; metal titanium storage containers; metal recording disks; closeup of record player and needle playing a segment of LRH reading one of his works]

VO: Buried deep in these New Mexico hills in steel-lined tunnels, said to be able to survive a nuclear blast, is what Scientology considers the future of mankind. Seen here for the first time, thousands of metal records, stored in heat-resistant titanium boxes and playable on a solar-powered turntable, all containing the beliefs of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

L. RON HUBBARD (voice of, from a recorded disk): And man can achieve these goals today of freedom for himself, for his people, through Scientology.

[another aerial shot of Scn compound in New Mexico]

VO: Clearly Scientology believes it’s here to stay.

DAVID MISCAVIGE (from Scn event, caption, "Church of Scientology video"): Never before have we embarked on such massive expansion, and yet it will soon be reality. And we will be moving into the new millennium with authority. (crowd cheers)

[more footage from the Scn event; footage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman; Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley; Kirstie Alley and James Wilder; Jenna Elfman and her husband Bodhi;; footage from Barbara Walters special from 5/20/98 with Jenna Elfman]

VO: Scientology is on the march. It has powerful political friends and a group of glittering celebrities: Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Lisa Marie Presley, Kirstie Alley, Jenna Elfman. These celebrities have become Scientology’s best salespeople.

JENNA ELFMAN (from Barbara Walters special from 5/20/98): What’s great about Scientology is, there’s you, right? And you’re always you. But as you go through life, you know, you have the [mock-stern, serious voice] betrayals and the losses [normal voice] and the things that start clouding up. And what Scientology does is it helps take away all that stuff so that you can just be you.

[scene from "Pulp Fiction"--John Travolta and Uma Thurman in dance contest at nightclub; scene from "Welcome Back, Kotter"; Tom Jarriel walking down steps outside with John Travolta and Kirstie Alley]

VO: Superstar John Travolta credits the church with his success in films like "Pulp Fiction". He joined the church around the time he made his first television appearance in "Welcome Back, Kotter". He and actress Kirstie Alley agreed to sit down with "20/20" for a rare interview about their religion.

TOM JARRIEL: Why did you turn to Scientology? Why have you chosen Scientology?

JOHN TRAVOLTA: I was 21 when, um, I first heard about it, and, um, someone introduced it to me, and they were so certain and happy. And I wasn’t used to be--people being certain and happy, I was used to (chuckles) people being insecure and unhappy. Um, I took a course, and my life has never been the same.

[TV clip of Kirstie Alley on "Cheers"]

VO: Years before Kirstie Alley joined the cast of "Cheers", she was a struggling actress hooked on drugs

KIRSTIE ALLEY: I didn’t want to do drugs anymore; but I didn’t want to live life without doing drugs. And the life was just being squelched out of me; it was a slow death. I had one auditing session , uh, in Scientology, and I never did drugs again and never had the urge to do drugs again.

TOM JARRIEL: Is there any stigma to it professionally for you?

JOHN TRAVOLTA: I think it’s a--it’s, it’s been, you know, not only an asset but most of the reason I’m still here.

[outside Big Blue building in Los Angeles; front page of New York Times with article about Lisa McPherson titled, "Death of a Scientologist Heightens Suspicions in a Florida Town"; aerial shot of Castile Canyon School from German film crew video ]

VO: But there is another side to the Scientology story: Front-page reports of the mysterious death of a Scientologist in Florida; allegations of virtual prison camps.

INA BROEKMANN (from video footage): What’s so secret of this organization? What’s so secret of this area?

[picketers--some of the signs include "(top of sign clipped off) Camps in L.A.! Close the RPF!!", "Scientology vs. The Internet: www.xenu.net", "Scientology: First Amendment Enemy", sign with picture of Lisa McPherson]

VO: And charges by former members of mistreatment and abuse.

STACY YOUNG (crying): All I know is that the things you hope for and the--the group that you invested your life in is a fraud, and--and a dangerous, horrifying, terrifying fraud, a nightmare.

TOM JARRIEL (outside Big Blue church building in Los Angeles): Again and again while reporting this story, we were confronted by Scientology’s split personality. On one hand, we were introduced to numbers of devoted followers who told us the church had turned their lives around. On the other hand, we met many former members who described Scientology as a dangerous and deeply paranoid organization. The root of this contradiction, many told us, lies in the peculiar personality of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

(footage from "The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard" documentary):

INTERVIEWER: Do you ever think that you might be quite mad?

L. RON HUBBARD: Oh, yes. The one man in the world who never believes he’s mad is the madman.

TOM JARRIEL: L. Ron Hubbard has been described by his supporters as a genius, by his critics as a madman.

MIKE RINDER: If I took one word to describe L. Ron Hubbard, it would be "friend".

[Tom Jarriel and Mike Rinder walking around outside church]

VO: Mike Rinder is one of Scientology’s top leaders.

MIKE RINDER (voice of and on camera): Every few thousand years, a man comes along who is so extraordinary that he changes the course of history. And L. Ron Hubbard is one of those men.

[doors pulling open to reveal a big picture of LRH; photographs of LRH]

VO: Where did this prophet of Scientology come from? L. Ron Hubbard was a modestly successful pulp-fiction writer from the 1930’s and ‘40’s. In a letter to his wife, he predicted, "I will smash my name into history so violently, it will take a legendary form."

[picture of first edition of "Dianetics]

VO: In 1950, at age 39, he published a book that would make him famous: "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health". In it, he claimed to have found nothing less than the secret to the human mind.

[video footage of L. Ron Hubbard giving a lecture]

L. RON HUBBARD (from video): There was a chasm between this existence where we are now and a higher plateau of existence.

[photograph of LRH giving a demonstration of auditing]

VO: Hubbard promised that he could make a person into a kind of superman, raise IQ’s, cure sicknesses, and enable people to leave their bodies and travel through time and space. Tens of thousands of Hubbard’s followers take this as the gospel truth.

CARTHY WEINAN: What if we have found something that does work? Just that. What if that’s true? Isn’t that worth a look?

[Carthy Weinan playing soccer; Carthy Weinan at his computer]

VO: Carthy Weinan joined the church at age 14. Today he’s a scriptwriter in Los Angeles. He credits Scientology with his success.

CARTHY WEINAN (on cell phone at his home): OK, that’s kind of the payoff that we wanted to get at the, at the end.

CARTHY WEINAN (on camera): This is real. It works. The effect that it’s gonna have in a broad way on every thing in your life--you know, you can’t calculate the work of that.

[Ralph Hilton and woman PC in an auditing session]

VO: What Weinan and others say has transformed their lives is the mysterious practice Scientologists call auditing. At the center of an auditing session is a device called an E-meter. It sends a small electrical current through a person’s body, registering minute physical changes in the skin. Scientologists believe it can also literally measure thoughts.

[Church of Scientology video of an auditing session]

WOMAN AUDITOR (from video): Any reason not to begin session?

MAN PC (from video): None at all

VO: The church would not allow "20/20" to videotape auditing. But for the first time, they released these pictures of what they say is an actual auditing session.

AUDITOR (from video): Locate an incident when you took the emotion of sorrow.

PC (from video): I believe it was 1949.

VO: According to Hubbard, the mind is an archive of physical and emotional traumas. During auditing, a person is asked to re-experience these painful events, sometimes from previous lives, hundreds or even thousands of years ago

AUDITOR (from video): Is there an earlier incident when you took the emotion of sorrow?

PC (from video): 1814.

AUDITOR (from video): What happened?

PC (from video): I was just walking out across this battlefield after the firings had ceased. There were just dead and mutilated bodies

VO: Once relived, Scientologists believe, the painful memory is erased and replaced by understanding and a blissful feeling of relief.

AUDITOR (from video): Thank you very much. Your needle is floating.

PC (from video)(smiling): Thank you.

KIRSTIE ALLEY (voice of and on camera): I know the way I feel when I come out of a session. I feel happy and, and outgoing and exuberant. That’s how it makes me feel, because I solved something.

[Grade chart of "The Bridge"]

VO: Auditing is arranged in a progression of levels that Hubbard called "The Bridge to Total Freedom". The first significant goal on the Bridge, Hubbard told his followers, is the State of Clear.

[Scn event, with picture of LRH hanging up on stage]

SCIENO MAN ON STAGE: Hi, everybody.

AUDIENCE (in unison): Hi!

VO: Once this goal is reached, Scientologists declare themselves problem-free.

MAN ON STAGE: And I’ve never, ever, felt so wonderful , I’ve never been so aware, and that nothing is gonna hold me back

[audience gives standing ovation]

[inside lobby of Scn church with people waiting to get into sessions]

VO: But some critics have called auditing a money-making scheme.

RECEPTIONIST (talking to PC): As soon as your auditor comes out, you’ll go in session

[more footage of lobby of Scn church; woman reading "Dianetics" while she’s waiting; Sea Org member escorting PC]

VO: Sessions start at less than $100 an hour, but can rise steeply to more than $600 an hour. To reach the State of Clear can cost tens of thousands

SCIENO MAN (not identified): If it wasn’t worth its money I wouldn’t be paying for it. If it was 10 times the amount that I had to pay for it, I’d find the money to do it; and if it was a hundred times more, then I’d pay that, too.

[close-up of e-meter and hands holding the cans; footage of LRH from "The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard"; Scienos in church lobby walking by a bronze bust of LRH; close-up of bronze bust of LRH under title L. RON HUBBARD]

VO: In fact, the most dedicated Scientologist will spend tens of thousands more to follow Hubbard’s bridge to its mysterious upper levels. This is where Hubbard reveals his final secret. Scientologists are now told only one thing stands between them and absolute spiritual freedom. It involves an intergalactic incident that took place 75 million years ago. Only through more auditing, Hubbard says, can they be liberated at last.

[shot through window of a Scn classroom]

VO: The church considers these secret levels sacred. We agreed not to divulge their precise contents in return for access to the church and its members.

[video footage of the raid on Dennis Erlich’s house]

DENNIS ERLICH (from video)(talking to official): Please don’t let them take that stuff out.

[more footage from the video of the Erlich raid, showing close-up of computer disks, officials carrying out boxes]

VO: This is what happened when former church member Dennis Erlich posted the secret levels on the Internet back in 1995. Armed with a court order obtained under copyright laws, Scientology officials staged a surprise raid on Erlich’s home. Accompanied by local police, church officials carted away computers, disk drives, and, Erlich says, personal files.

DENNIS ERLICH (from video)(talking to official): I have not yet seen anything and I haven’t got a--I haven’t got an inventory of anything--

[more footage from the video of the Erlich raid]

DENNIS ERLICH (voice of and on camera): The idea that any court would open up my house to my enemies in that manner to go through my personal belongings in that way for seven hours and, and--it was just beyond belief.

[older picture of Dennis; recruitment poster for the Sea Org with picture of a Sea Org member and the message "You can dream of a cleared planet or you can go through hell and high water to make one—The Sea Org"; footage of Sea Org members]

VO: Before becoming a leading church critic, Dennis Erlich was a member of its elite priesthood, the so-called Sea Organization. Today’s Sea Org members dress in naval style uniforms, live and eat communally, and sign billion year contracts with the organization to achieve a goal they describe as "freeing the planet".

[footage from "The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard" of Sea Org members on the Apollo; picture of LRH aboard the Apollo; more footage from "The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard"]

VO: The Sea Organization is named for a group of zealous Scientologists who took to the seas with L. Ron Hubbard aboard a ship he named the Apollo. The year was 1967. Scientology was under investigation from Africa to the United States. In Australia it was outlawed as a threat to the community, medically, morally and socially. With nowhere else to go, Hubbard began to wander the Mediterranean, like Moses in the desert, searching for a Promised Land for Scientology.

HANA WHITFIELD: I became willing to follow him through hell and high water

[older picture of Hana Whitfield; picture of LRH]

VO: A young nurse named Hana Whitfield was one of Hubbard’s original Sea Org members. But instead of a magnanimous leader, Whitfield says she found in Hubbard a man increasingly prone to violent fits of temper.

HANA WHITFIELD: He would whine and cry out and, and express outrage at this or that or the other. Um, that would go on for days.

[footage from "The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard"; picture from Scn magazine of Sea Org member being lifted up by other members and held over the railing of the ship, close-up of caption saying, "Students are thrown overboard for gross out tech and bequeathed in the deep!"]

VO: According to Whitfield and others, Hubbard ordered rule-breakers confined to the ship’s chain locker for days at a time, including once a 4-year-old boy. On another occasion, witnesses say, Hubbard ordered wayward crew members to be shoved overboard while the Apollo was docked in port. A Scientology magazine at the time depicted the ceremony.

HANA WHITFIELD: And those who were wailing or prostrate with fear were just grabbed and shoved over the ship into the harbor.

MIKE RINDER: There was a, like a, a little ceremony that grew up that was like a, um,--I dunno, a joke, like a fun thing--"OK, I commit my sins to the deep and I arise a better man!" and he would jump off the side.

[footage of Mike Rinder sitting at a desk]

VO: Mike Rinder, now a senior church official, joined the Sea Organization when he was just a teenager. He remembers life aboard the Apollo very differently.

TOM JARRIEL: Did you ever see him punish anyone, for example, by putting them in solitary confinement in a chain locker?

MIKE RINDER: No, never, never (shakes his head). So it--how do you now prove that never took place? All I can do is tell you, "No, it didn’t happen".

TOM JARRIEL: You were caught in a huge contradiction, then. A man you admired, a man you had serious doubts about.

[older picture of Hana Whitfield]

HANA WHITFIELD (voice of and on camera): It was a very unique trap. As the door was closing behind me, I didn’t know it was a trap. A small percentage of people left; the rest of us stayed

BARBARA WALTERS: And wait until you see what Hana Whitfield says happened next. Tom Jarriel will be back with more in a moment.

[aerial footage of the Castile Canyon School]

ANNOUNCER: The so-called rehabilitation camps where the Church of Scientology sends those who stray.

HANA WHITFIELD: I was locked in this room in the dark for however long it was.

[Fort Harrison Hotel including the garage; outside Big Blue building; "20/20" logo]

ANNOUNCER: Accusations of being held captive, mistreated, interrogated for disloyalty to the church when "20/20 Sunday" continues. [COMMERCIAL BREAK]

[Barbara Walters, in front of screen showing picture of Big Blue building; picture of LRH]

BARBARA WALTERS: Tom Jarriel continues now with his investigation into the Church of Scientology. Is it a religion like other mainstream religions? Or is it, as critics charge, a secretive and destructive cult? We go back now to 1975. Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, are already being investigated around the world. And after years of self-imposed exile aboard his ship the Apollo, Hubbard has decided to drop anchor in the United States.

TOM JARRIEL (on the shore of beach at Clearwater, FL): After wandering the seas for more than five years, Hubbard finally came ashore here, in the sleepy retirement town of Clearwater, Florida. His goal was to establish an international mecca for Scientology. But according to many insiders, Hubbard was growing more and more vindictive toward those who stood in his way. He created what he called "The Rehabilitation Project Force."

HANA WHITFIELD: The people who are assigned to this camp are the worst of the worst. They're the--they’re criminals in Scientology.

[older picture of Hana Whitfield]

VO: Hana Whitfield says the RPF was, in effect, a work camp to rehabilitate Sea Organization members accused of insubordination. In May 1978, she says, it was her turn.

HANA WHITFIELD: I had two big men on either side of me who pretty much manhandled me into this room with no windows. And there was just a mattress on the floor. And I was locked in this room in the dark for however long it was.

[Fort Harrison Hotel including garage; older picture of Hana Whitfield]

VO: Whitfield says that while she was in the RPF, she lived in the garage of the church-owned Fort Harrison Hotel, ate scraps and worked at hard labor up to 12 hours a day.

TOM JARRIEL (voice of): What was your crime to have been put into this, this harsh program to begin with?

HANA WHITFIELD: My crime was, in a Scientology sense, a very serious one. I was accused of having negative thoughts about Mr. Hubbard.

MIKE RINDER: The Rehabilitation Project Force is a part within the Sea Organization where people who have, you know, been goofing up, they can go to rehabilitate themselves.

TOM JARRIEL (on camera, sitting at desk holding copies of letters): After our interview, the church apparently launched a letter-writing campaign. Rinder sent us scores of letters from current and former Sea Org members, all addressed to ABC and all extolling the benefits of the RPF. (reading from first letter) "While on the RPF, I learned how to work hard and be a productive person." (reading from second letter)"I came out of it extroverted, ethical and more willing to confront life." (reading from third letter) "What I handled was getting to the root of why i was so bad in my transgressions against others."

[Dennis Erlich walking down sidewalk]

VO: But some former members we talked to describe their experience as physically and psychologically punishing, and anything but voluntary.

DENNIS ERLICH: I was certainly completely at their mercy.

[older picture of Dennis Erlich; diagram of Fort Harrison Hotel]

VO: Dennis Erlich claims that for one 10-day period, he was actually put under lock and key in the boiler room of the Fort Harrison Hotel.

DENNIS ERLICH: In the middle of one of the rooms was a chicken wire enclosure with a door that, that had a lock on it. And I was placed in there and the lock was put on the door.

[Vaughn and Stacy Young walking outside their home with their dogs]

VO: At the time, Vaughn and Stacy Young were high-level public relations officials in the church.

STACY YOUNG: At 4:00 in the morning one night, Vaughn and I were asleep and there was a knock on the door. And two security guards were there, and they took me away into the prison camp.

[older picture of Stacy Young; outside Big Blue building]

VO: Stacy Young says she was assigned to the RPF for disobeying an order to interrogate a fellow staff member. For part of the time, Young says she was in a room on the seventh floor of the Los Angeles church. Her husband admits he stood by and did nothing to try to get her out.

VAUGHN YOUNG: You're being challenged that, you know, "What are you? Are you disloyal? "Do you," you know, "you love your wife more than freedom for the planet? You're going to let people suffer." You know, all this, all this crap is dumped on you. And what are you supposed to say?

STACY YOUNG: I didn't see Vaughn for several months. I didn't hear from him. I didn't have any correspondence with him whatsoever. He did nothing to try and rescue me. (starts crying) I felt that my husband should have rescued me.

VAUGHN YOUNG: I didn't take her out. I look back at that--that’s--I should have just picked her up. I should have just picked her up. And I should have just said, "If anybody touches me, you're dead."

[close-up of Scientology sign; older picture of Vaughn Young]

VO: Even after Stacy's release from the RPF, the Youngs remained loyal. But in 1988, Vaughn Young says, the church turned on him, too, and he began his own 13-month stint in the RPF.

VAUGHN YOUNG: You go through interrogations hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month. Breaking you down, breaking you down, breaking you down.

TOM JARRIEL: Travel between buildings is accompanied by a security guard. An RPF member may not speak unless spoken to. If dismissed, must sign a confession of his crimes. These are acceptable, I take it?

MIKE RINDER: If a, a priest or a monk or a nun was to leave one of those religious orders and come out and say, "Wow, you know, I had to sleep on straw and I lived in a cell and I couldn't talk to anybody and I had to be celibate." And people would go, "But, you walked in there knowing that and you were a part of it." So, fine that you leave. Don't complain about it.

[Vaughn and Stacy Young outside their home with their dogs]

VO: A year after Vaughn's release from the RPF, the Youngs say they had had enough. They threw some clothes in the back of their car and fled.

VAUGHN YOUNG: Hubbard's policy was, "As long as you're with us, we'll leave you alone. But if you speak out against us, we're gonna dog you and ruin you and destroy you." And that's exactly what they keep trying to do.

[picture of Scn church and title "Hubbard Dianetics Foundation"; typewritten copy of Stacy Young’s "Success Story" with her name and "Action Completed: RPF Auditing"; handwritten copy of Vaughn Young’s "Success Story" of 12/10/88 with his name and title "RPF Auditing Completion"; close-up of signature.]

VO: The church denies having mistreated the Youngs. They provided "20/20" with these documents in which both of the Youngs writes fondly of their experience in the RPF. Vaughn Young says they were coerced.

VAUGHN YOUNG: They want it in your own handwriting. So that when, when your handwriting's done, they say, "See, we have it in his handwriting. He confessed to this. He did this."

TOM JARRIEL: Vaughn Young says he was forced to sign a statement he did not believe in, and it was a prerequisite to get out of what he wanted to get away from.

MIKE RINDER: Well, you know, what do you want to believe? Do you want to believe what Vaughn young wrote at the time and signed, or do you want to believe him now saying, "Well, I didn't mean to write that."

TOM JARRIEL: Many of their stories, though, about RPF are corroborated in sworn court testimony by up to a dozen other people. Are they all lying?

MIKE RINDER: They sat in a room. They figured out what they were gonna say. They wrote their bits. They passed them around. They made sure that they were consistent. And yes, they were paid for that.

[court document from "Church of Scientology, International vs. Steven Fishman and Uwe Geertz" with section "Bill of Costs" and list of witness names, including Vaughn and Stacy Young’s names, with list of dollar amounts for the witnesses’ services; Vaughn Young at his computer, with cat jumping up on the desk; older picture of Larry Wollersheim, with magazine article title "Wollersheim wins another round against Scientology" superimposed over the picture on bottom of screen; court papers with phrases "forced to undergo a strenuous regime--" "Several Scientology members seized Wollersheim and held him captive." enlarged]

VO: Rinder provided "20/20" with this court document which shows that the Youngs since 1993 had been paid some $50,000 as expert witnesses in civil suits against the church. But the Youngs, who have separated since our interview, vehemently deny that they are fabricating their stories. In fact, they point out, similar accounts have been credited by judges and juries in a number of court cases. In one example former Sea Org member Lawrence Wollersheim won a multimillion-dollar judgment against the church. An appeals court judge wrote that while in the RPF Wollersheim had -- "been forced to undergo a strenuous regime" that lasted 19 hours a day. When he tried to escape the RPF, the judge wrote -- "Several Scientology members seized Wollersheim and held him captive.

LARRY WOLLERSHEIM: They censor the phone calls. You're not allowed to speak to anyone who's critical. There was no way for anyone to reach me.

[footage of Scienos at party; aerial footage of Castile Canyon School]

VO: Scientology has projected a kinder, gentler, more understanding image in recent years. But critics insist that RPF camps continue to exist today. Sworn affidavits point to one at this site, a multi-acre spread near Palm Springs, which the church calls the Castile Canyon School.

TOM JARRIOL (voice of): What is the Castile Canyon School?

MIKE RINDER: It's a school for the children of Sea Org members . TOM JARRIOL: We have seen sworn statements this is also an RPF camp. Is that true?

MIKE RINDER: There are RPF people there, yeah.

[aerial footage of Castile Canyon School

VO: ABC asked Mike Rinder if we could take our cameras and go to the school to talk to those inside, but he refused.

[video footage of German film crew at Castile Canyon School]

KEN HODEN (from video): See the helicopter?

[more video footage of German film crew at Castile Canyon School, with Hoden standing in front of the car the crew was driving so they couldn’t get through]

VO: Earlier, when German film maker Peter Reichelt and his crew set out to see what they could find, this is what happened.

VOICE OF GERMAN FILM CREW MEMBER: You are blocking us. You are harassing us. You are not allowed to do that.

[more footage from the video of the German film crew at Castile Canyon School, with Scienos with video camera and driver of the German crew’s car with video camera]

VO: A mile from the school, the Germans’ way was blocked by carloads of Scientologists. According to the German film makers, senior church official Ken Hoden detained them for more than two hours.

KEN HODEN (from video): I'm giving you one last warning. Are you going to leave? Yes or no? Fine! I am placing you under citizen's arrest right now!

INA BROEKMANN (from video): What's so secret with this organization? What's so secret with this area? What happened here?

DIANE SAWYER: What is all the secrecy about? What else goes on behind the walls of church compounds? Tom Jarriel will have more in a moment.


[Big Blue building; picket sign saying "Scientology: First Amendment Enemy"; clip from the Erlich raid video with close-up of computer disks; Richard Behar walking down street; outside of Hana Whitfield’s house; HCOPL with picture of LRH transposed and the phrase "A church enemy ‘May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed." enlarged]

ANNOUNCER: The Church of Scientology takes on its critics, fighting the IRS, investigating journalists and going after former followers.

FRANK OLIVER: You find your weak spot and you expose it. You literally destroy them.

[John Travolta and Kirstie Alley; aerial shot of Scn church; 20/20 logo]

ANNOUNCER: But John Travolta and Kirstie Alley speak out for the religion that changed their lives.

["20/20" logo}

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, "20/20 Sunday" continues after this from our ABC stations.


["20/20" logo]

ANNOUNCER: from ABC News, "20/20 Sunday" continues. And now Diane Sawyer.

DIANE SAWYER: And now, Tom Jarriel picks up his report at a turning point for the Church of Scientology. For 25 years, the church has been at war with the Internal Revenue Service over its tax status as a religious organization. In the mid-'70s, 11 top leaders were sent to prison for breaking into the IRS, stealing documents, bugging offices. But after the death of L. Ron Hubbard, the new church leaders renounced the illegal tactics and instead brought scores of lawsuits against the IRS, apparently in an effort to bring the agency to its knees.

[video footage of Scn event at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles with people on stage carrying flags and banners]

VO: October 1993. You are watching scenes of an extraordinary event. More than 10,000 Scientologists gather at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles for what’s promised to be the most significant announcement in Scientology's history.

DAVID MISCAVIGE (from video, on stage): On October 1st, 1993, the IRS issued letters recognizing Scientology and every one of its organizations as fully tax exempt.

[more footage of event with audience cheering and laser lights and spotlights circling throughout the auditorium; footage of different Scn churches; Scieno walking up steps of Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles; outside of Celebrity Centre; in lobby of Celebrity Centre with person playing a piano; footage of Celebrity Centre restaurant, theater and sauna; outside Celebrity Centre; classroom inside Celebrity Centre]

VO: The war with the IRS was over and Scientology had won. The IRS decision was a financial boon for a group that already claimed to be worth in excess of $1 billion. With the tax advantages enjoyed by the other mainstream religions, Scientology has gone on an international expansion. They own valuable properties around the world and claim a membership of 8 million, though others outside the church put the number as low as 150,000. Their religious practices are unconventional. No worship services take place inside the buildings they call churches. In fact, some resemble resorts more than places of worship. In Los Angeles, this church contains a first-class restaurant, a private theater and saunas. Scientologists stay in luxury hotel rooms upstairs while attending auditing and other courses downstairs.

[video footage at Scn event]

TOM DAVIS (from video, on stage): Hello.

AUDIENCE (in unison): Hi!

[more video footage from Scn event of Tom Davis speaking]

VO: The so-called Celebrity Centre is run by Tom Davis. He's the son of actress Anne Archer, herself a devoted Scientologist for some 20 years. Davis is the face of the new church.

TOM DAVIS: My involvement in Scientology is for my life. This is my life's devotion.

[close-up of LRH bronze bust, camera panning to Tom Davis and his wife Nadine sitting at table outside church]

VO: Davis dropped out of Columbia University as a freshman to join the Sea Organization, where he met his Belgian wife, Nadine.

NADINE DAVIS: For us, it's a crusade. We're like crusaders. We're like knights in knighthood. (laughs) You know, we're like, um, yeah, and it's fun. I mean, it's a fun activity to set men free.

[video footage of Tom and Nadine Davis at literacy class walking down hall with other members; close-up of young child reading book, Nadine and another teacher at table with young child]

VO: The Davises, who work an average of 15 hours a day for around $50 a week, spend much of their time disseminating L. Ron Hubbard's teachings, on this day, at a literacy project in the inner-city neighborhood of Compton.

NADINE DAVIS: I made the decision to forward the aims of Scientology. I actually compare it a little bit like Mother Teresa, you know, who just kind of gives her life to the dedication of setting, you know, helping people, helping the poor and the weak.

[Tom Jarriel walking down steps outside with John Travolta and Kirstie Alley]

VO: Scientologists believe this and not scandal is the real essence of their religion.

JOHN TRAVOLTA: You can look at the beg—origins of almost every religion and the first so many years are, they're attacked. Take a look at every program we've instilled in either local communities, prisons, drug rehabs, I mean, our statistics are through the roof.

TOM JARRIEL (outside AOLA building in Los Angeles): But critics say the church may never be able to gain the mainstream acceptance it seeks as long as it remains tethered to the words and ideas of its controversial founder. L. Ron Hubbard left Scientology not only his religious writings, but a series of controversial directives that appear to advocate threats, intimidation, and even attacks against those he regarded as enemies.

[HCOPL with picture of LRH transposed, with the phrases "Don’t ever defend. Always attack." "The purpose of a (law)suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win." "A church enemy ‘May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed."]

VO: Some of Hubbard's writings: "Don't ever defend. Always attack." "The purpose of the lawsuit is to harass and discourage rather than win." A church enemy "may be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed."

FRANK OLIVER: They can send private investigators out to your home or to your place of work, talk to your neighbors. They will illicitly try and obtain copies of your phone bills or credit rating. They will try and create problems for you at your place of employment.They will try and sue you. They'll do everything they can try and do to stop you or to silence you.

TOM JARRIEL: How do you know?

FRANK OLIVER: I know because that's what I used to do.

[Frank Oliver at his business]

VO: Frank Oliver runs a digital graphics firm in Miami, but for four years, he says, he was a member of the church's internal security apparatus.

[picture of Frank Oliver International Association of Scientologists membership card]

FRANK OLIVER (voice of and on camera): I remember having to make the phone calls to all the phone numbers on someone's phone bill to find out where they had called. These were enemies of the church. You shut them down. You find out what you can about them. You find their weak spot and you expose it. You make it so that they cannot survive or exist. You literally destroy them.

[Hana Whitfield and Tom Jarriel walking outside]

VO: Hana Whitfield says that since she became a paid consultant to families trying to get loved ones to leave Scientology, she has been the target of intense harassment.

[Scn DA flyer about Hana Whitfield with the title "Hana Whitfield: A Threat to Family Unity" and picture of her with the caption "Hana Whitfield has a long history of mental problems for which she has received psychological" (rest cut off screen)]

HANA WHITFIELD (voice of and on camera): We've had demonstrate--people demonstrate outside our home. We've had leaflets with terrible accusations in them, you know, distributed around our neighborhood, that I'm a murderer, that we're deprogrammers, we torture people, we kidnap them. None of this is true, but it's beside the point.

FRANK OLIVER: I think that when we were chasing around Hana Whitfield that she was very intimidated by this, very disturbed by it.

[outside Hana Whitfield’s house]

VO: Frank Oliver says he spent three days on a stakeout of the Whitfields in Los Angeles.

FRANK OLIVER: We followed this woman out of her house. We chased her around. We followed her to the airport.

TOM JARRIEL: Do you know Frank Oliver?

MIKE RINDER: No. I don't know Frank Oliver.

TOM JARRIEL: He's told us that while working for the church, he personally went through phone records of church people, critics, without their knowledge. He searched their garbage. He followed them.

MIKE RINDER: Well, if Frank Oliver claims that, then Frank Oliver was operating completely outside of directives and policies of the church and that's probably why he left.

[Frank Oliver driving in his car]

VO: But Frank Oliver says that he left the church in 1992 after six years for very different reasons.

FRANK OLIVER (voice of and on camera): The lies just permeated everything. At that point, it was just lies upon lies upon lies. They might feel I betrayed them, but the truth is they betrayed me.

[Frank Oliver at his business; Cult Awareness Network newsletter]

VO: Oliver says what finally drove him out of Scientology was the church's request that he participate in a campaign to bring down one of the church's most bitter enemies. The Cult Awareness Network, CAN, issued warnings about Scientology and other groups calling them "dangerous cults." Beginning in 1991, CAN faced a barrage of more than 50 lawsuits brought by Scientologists . TOM JARRIEL: did Scientology, through a large number of lawsuits, set out to destroy the Cult Awareness Network as an organization?

MIKE RINDER: No. There were a number of Scientologists who decided to join the Cult Awareness Network to bring some balance to the information that they were providing to people. They were denied membership.

[legal papers involving CAN with Kendrick Moxon’s’ name; newspaper article with title "Lawyer Buys Rights to Anti-Cult Organization"]

VO: The Scientologists sued. Nearly all of them were represented by an attorney named Kendrick Moxon, also a Scientologist. Eventually, CAN was forced into bankruptcy and another Scientologist bought up its name and telephone numbers.

SCIENO AT CAN, ANSWERING PHONE: Good afternoon, Cult Awareness Network.

[newspaper article titled, "Anti-Cult Group Dismembered As Former Foes Buy Its Assets"]

VO: Today, when you call the Cult Awareness Network, a Scientologist answers the phone.

[outside Scn church; cover of Time magazine "Scientology: The Cult of Greed" issue; first page of Time magazine Scn article; Richard Behar walking outside Time-Life building]

VO: CAN is not the only outside institution that has taken on the church only to face its wrath. In 1991 Time magazine published this cover story written by Richard Behar, which remains one of the most scathing pieces ever published about Scientology. In the aftermath, the church brought a $415 million libel suit, and, according to Behar, dispatched as many as ten private investigators to follow him, contact his family and friends and illegally obtain his credit report.

RICHARD BEHAR: It's been a chilling effect for the media. I know that when reporters and media companies consider writing about this subject, they're often afraid to do it in an in-depth way.

[Richard Behar walking down street]

VO: Scientology's lawsuit against Time was dismissed. While the church denies most of Behar's allegations, they do not deny investigating him.

MIKE RINDER: There were certainly investigators looking into what was it that motivated his--um, what was it that motivated his campaign.

TOM JARRIEL: Were the investigators authorized to trail him, to phone him, to spread literature in the building where he worked, to dig through his garbage and that type of thing?

MIKE RINDER: The investigators were authorized to do whatever was within the law to investigate and find the motives behind Richard Behar.

TOM JARRIEL (outside Fort Harrison Hotel): But no amount of effort by the church has been able to slow a torrent of sensational news stories about the recent mysterious death of a young Scientologist. She spent the last 17 days of her life here at the Fort Harrison Hotel. And once again, the church's strict adherence to Hubbard's teachings may have played into the hands of the church's harshest critics.

[video footage of Lisa McPherson dancing; picture of Lisa; footage of hospital emergency room; picture of LRH; footage of hallway at hospital]

VO: Lisa McPherson was a vibrant and devout Scientologist for 18 years. In the last year of her life, she turned over nearly $60,000 of her income to the church. But in 1996*, friends say, McPherson began to display odd behavior. On November 11th*, after a minor traffic accident in Clearwater, Florida, she stripped off her clothes and began to walk naked down the street. McPherson was taken to a local hospital for a psychiatric exam, but she refused treatment. In this she was following the dictates of L. Ron Hubbard, who despised psychiatrists and believed he knew best how to treat mental illness. Hours later, she was released to a group of Scientologists who had come for her.

[outside Fort Harrison Hotel, camera slowly doing close-up of window of one of the rooms; babywatch logs]

VO: In the final weeks of her life, while she lived in a room in the church-owned Fort Harrison Hotel, McPherson's Scientologist caretakers took detailed handwritten notes which describe her mental and physical decline. November 19th--"If she starts talking, she talks and talks, then she stares at a spot." November 22nd--"She refused to eat and spit out everything she took. Her breath was foul. She went violent and hit me a few times, telling me in a rage she was to kill me. I called in the guard."

KEN DANDAR: She's spitting. She's yelling. She's screaming, and they're restraining her.

[Ken Dandar]

VO: Ken Dandar is representing the McPherson family in a lawsuit against the church.

[picture of Lisa]

KEN DANDAR (voice of): The notes show she was so weak from malnutrition and dehydration that she couldn't even walk anymore.

MIKE RINDER: Those people loved Lisa McPherson. Those people did everything that they possibly could to assist her when she needed help. She came to them for assistance and they provided it.

[babywatch logs]

VO: Rinder points out that some of the notes seem to reflect a genuine concern on the part of McPherson's Scientology caretakers. December 2nd--"She is resting now. She originated that she knows we are trying to help her, although she doesn't know our names.

[outside New Fort Richey Hospital; doors outside an emergency room; autopsy photos of Lisa McPherson]

VO: Three days later, Scientologists drove McPherson to a hospital 45 minutes away to see a Scientologist physician bypassing four closer hospitals. She was dead on arrival. An autopsy revealed she was covered in bruises and insect bites and, at 5'11", weighed only 108 pounds. The medical examiner concluded her death at age 34 had been caused by prolonged dehydration, but experts retained by the church say her death was purely accidental.

MIKE RINDER: She died unfortunately of a pulmonary embolism, something that is both sudden, unpredictable, and in many cases it is untreatable.

TOM JARRIEL: Why, when it appeared she was physically deteriorating, wasn't she taken to a hospital?

MIKE RINDER: I don't know what happened, Tom, I wasn't there. I just know what it was that she died of, and I know what a pulmonary embolism is.

TOM JARRIEL: And do you know the church had no complicity in her death?

MIKE RINDER: Sure, sure.

[video footage of Lisa McPherson dancing]

KEN DANDAR (voice of and on camera): All they had to do was take her to the local emergency room where all the Scientologists go, but they chose to keep her inside the hotel and watch her die. Is that an accident? That's not an accident. That's intentional.

BARBARA WALTERS: Last month in Florida, criminal charges were brought against the Church of Scientology in the death of Lisa McPherson. The church is accused of abusing or neglecting a disabled adult. it has pleaded not guilty. Tom Jarriel will be back in a moment.

[Tom Jarriel walking down steps outside with John Travolta and Kirstie Alley; bust of LRH with title L. RON HUBBARD; Frank Oliver driving in his car, split screen with Vaughn and Stacy Young walking outside]

ANNOUNCER: John Travolta and Kirstie Alley step up to defend their beliefs, claiming a handful of defectors are the source of Scientology’s troubles.

KIRSTIE ALLEY: If you divorce a woman, and you, she gives me her version of why she left you, how valid do you think it is?

["20/20" logo]

ANNOUNCER: When "20/20 Sunday" continues.


[Barbara Walters in front of screen with picture of John Travolta and Kirstie Alley]

BARBARA WALTERS: John Travolta and Kirstie Alley in defense of Scientology. It is partly because of stars like them that the church has made such great inroads in the United States. But as Tom Jarriel tells us, that's not the case everywhere.

[on street in Munich, Germany; Gunther Beckstein walking out of building and getting into a car]

VO: Munich, Germany. Nowhere have the attacks on Scientology been stronger than here. Gunther Beckstein is the Interior Minister of the state of Bavaria.

GUNTHER BECKSTEIN: Scientology is a danger. They want to have a Scientology society. They want to clear the planet, and all the others have to obey.

[Gunther Beckstein giving speech; German document about Scientology with "Yes/No" boxes to check off]

VO: In their zeal to contain Scientology, the German government has raided churches, banned Scientologists from political parties and openly discriminated against Scientologists who might apply for government jobs.

JOHN TRAVOLTA (at Congressional hearing about Religious Persecution in Germany): --for no other reason than he is a member of the Church of Scientology--

[video footage of Congressional hearing about Religious Persecution in Germany]

VO: Typically, Scientology is fighting back. Recently, John Travolta testified before a congressional committee on Germany.

TOM JARRIEL: Make your blood boil a little bit?

JOHN TRAVOLTA: Well, I mean--it’s, uh, there's, there’s no -- it's beyond blood boiling. We're talking about, you know, worldwide survival here, you know.

TOM JARRIEL: I sat across from a German minister, a high official in their government, and he deplored Scientology in the strongest of terms. He equated it with the fear of the rise of Nazism, that this could be another fascist movement.

JOHN TRAVOLTA: Well, that's a shame because Scientology wants a world without war, without criminality, and without insanity, and I want to be part of any group that wants those things.

TOM JARRIEL: There's no question that Scientology--that's a part of Scientology. There also is little question that there have been people in Scientology who have run into major problems in their lives as the result of wanting to leave Scientology.

KIRSTIE ALLEY: If you divorce a woman, and you, she gives me her version of why she left you, how valid do you think it is? If you’ve got a group standing over here of millions of Scientologists telling you daily the successes that they have, the wins that they have, the way they're helping people, and you can examine the statistics for yourself, and you have a handful of dissatisfied customers over here, then that's life. You're never going to have a group of anyone without some dissatisfied customers. So say, fine, you don't want to be a Scientologist, go.

[Scienos outside a poster saying "Declaration of War"]

VO: And about the alleged harassment of those who criticize, including the media --

KIRSTIE ALLEY: You know the best way to fight somebody is to just expose their crimes. If somebody's attacking me, I'm not going to, like, pop them in the nose. If somebody's attacking me, I’m just gonna expose their crimes. That's good enough.

TOM JARRIEL: Do you feel that, that you need to defend Scientology?


KIRSTIE ALLEY: I’ve never felt the need to defend anything that was good. I have felt the need to fight for it. But I would fight for anything that I believed in.

JOHN TRAVOLTA: If you feel there's been an injustice, um, you fight back. That's just the law of nature. That's not anything we made up. That's something you do in order to survive. If we didn't do that, we wouldn't be here.

DIANE SAWYER: We’ll be right back. . [COMMERCIAL BREAK]

(Barbara Walters then goes on to promote her upcoming special on ABC and an upcoming edition of "20/20")

DIANE SAWYER: And that's it for "20/20 Sunday" tonight. Thank you for being with us. I'm Diane Sawyer.

BARBARA WALTERS: And you are fascinating.

DIANE SAWYER: Oh, how you talk.

BARBARA WALTERS: And I'm Barbara Walters. For all of us here at "20/20 Sunday," "20/20 Wednesday" and "20/20 Friday," have a great week. Good night.


* -- sic.


Sue, SP4(:), listed on the Scieno Sitter list 5 times! -- http://www.primenet.com/~xenubat

"It will take a *long* time to find another enemy with the combination of evil and incompetence you see in Scientology."--Keith Henson


The views and opinions stated within this web page are those of the author or authors which wrote them and may not reflect the views and opinions of the ISP or account user which hosts the web page. The opinions may or may not be those of the Chairman of The Skeptic Tank.

This web page (and The Skeptic Tank) is in no way connected with nor part of the Scientology crime syndicate. To review the crime syndicate's absurdly idiotic web pages, check out www.scientology.org or any one of the many secret front groups the cult attempts to hide behind.

Further facts about this criminal empire may be found at Operation Clambake and FACTNet.
Return to The Skeptic Tank's main Index page.

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank