All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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My name is Monica Pignotti. I was involved in the Church of Scientology from December, 1970 to August, 1976. From on or about February, 1973 to August, 1976, I was a member of the Sea Organization, the elite inner-circle of Scientology. From May 1973 to October 1975 I lived aboard the Flagship Apollo, which was the home of L. Ron Hubbard, his wife Mary Sue Hubbard and his four children. After leaving Flag in October 1975 when the ship was sold, I lived and worked on staff at the land base at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida until May, 1976 when I was transferred to Los Angeles where I was on staff until I left in August, 1976.
I first heard about Scientology in the fall of 1970, when I was a 17-year-old Freshman at the University of Utah majoring in music. Another music student told me about Scientology and invited me to a free lecture in December, 1970. Up to this point, I had been a good student and had no history whatsoever of any mental problems or drug abuse.
After attending the free lecture at the Scientology mission in Salt Lake City, I purchased the book, Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health, the 1950 bestseller by L. Ron Hubbard. I was very impressed and fascinated with the book and decided to sign up for the first course, which was called the Communications course. I started this course in January, 1971, which I attended two evenings a week. The course consisted mainly of drills called Training Regimens ("TRs"). The first TR was called TR-O, where I was required to sit face to face with a partner (another student), maintaining eye contact and "just be there", which meant to sit there without any movement or thought whatsoever. The drill is passed when the person can do this for two hours.
I was unaware at the time that every time I did TR-O, I was going into a hypnotic trance state. I only realized this years later, after leaving the group, when I read about hypnosis and experienced a trance state from a legitimate psychologist who did hypnosis on me. The state I was in then was identical to the state I was in when I did TR-O.
TRs are done regularly and often by Scientologists on all levels. Pretty soon, for me, just walking into the courseroom induced a trance state in me. Hubbard claimed to be vehemently against hypnosis, but, nevertheless, this is what I experienced. Being in this trance state made me extremely vulnerable to the material I was reading, which basically stated that Scientology is the only road to total freedom, that we were in a labyrinth as citizens of the planet earth and the only way out of this "trap" was through Scientology. A very dreary picture was being painted of the world outside of Scientology, which was referred to as the wog world.
I became more and more obsessed with Scientology and began spending more and more time at the mission and less and less time in my classes. By March, 1971, I dropped out of school and joined staff at the mission full time. When my parents, who lived in Michigan, found out that I had dropped out of school, they became very upset and concerned about me. They went to the library at the University of Michigan and did extensive research on Scientology and everything they came up with was negative. My father flew out to Salt Lake City to show me the articles and a book he had found, written by Paulette Cooper called The Scandal of Scientology. When he presented these articles and the book to me, I read them and immediately dismissed them as a pack of lies perpetrated by the "wog" press. I decided that Paulette Cooper must be a suppressive person. Suppressive person ("SP") is the term Scientologists use to describe anyone who publicly criticizes or attacks Scientology. An SP is a psychotic who wishes nothing but ill for all mankind. We were told that anyone who has any critical thoughts about Scientology has crimes of great magnitude (Scientologists call these overts) against the group. In this way, any critical thoughts we might have against the group were stopped, since any time I had a negative thought about Scientology, instead of looking at the evidence, I would introvert and ask myself what was wrong with me.
I became determined to become a Scientology auditor. This was accomplished by taking a series of Scientology courses, the first one being the Dianetics course, which cost $500, the next being the Academy levels, which cost $1,000 (these courses are much more expensive today). Since I was a college dropout, with no job other than my staff position at the Scientology mission, these prices were very expensive to me, but I didn't complain or object because I believed that in these courses was a great technology that would free mankind. We were told, in a statement by Hubbard called "What Your Fees Buy", that this money did not go to Hubbard personally — that he drew less salary than the average org staff member. The money, we were told, went to keeping the Scientology organizations running so Scientology could be delivered.
There was a least one occasion that I can recall that registrars from higher Scientology organizations came to our mission and used high pressure sales tactics to get us to sign up for more courses. One such tactic was called the "postulate check", where the person would be asked to write a check for an amount that they didn't have in the bank account. The theory behind this was that by writing such a check, the person would be given the incentive to create the money (Scientologists call creating something "mocking it up"). If a person really had a strong intention to get the money, he or she could mock it up. I wrote a postulate check for $1,000, even though I had less that $100 in my bank account. The next day, I went to my bank to try to get a loan for $1,000, but was turned down due to no credit history. My check bounced.
Not too long after that, I was walking in the downtown area of Salt Lake City when I was approached by a middle-aged man. He told me I was beautiful and he could get me work in the movies. He was obviously a con man — obvious to anyone but me. I decided that I had finally mocked up a way to get the money for my courses. I agreed to meet him the next day — I trusted this total stranger. I got into his car with him and he took me to his hotel room. It was then that I started to feel very uneasy and to realize that he just wanted to have sex with me. I was very frightened and even though I didn't want to, I submitted when he raped me. Prior to being in Scientology, I never would have given this man the time of day, but being in the tranced-out state of mind I was in, I went with him.
At the time, I didn't realize why this had happened and blamed myself for the whole incident. Eventually, I managed to get the money for my courses, by gradually saving the $220 a month living expenses my parents sent me, getting more money from my parents and borrowing money from friends who were also in Scientology.
By this time, I became more and more involved in Scientology and more isolated from the rest of the world. I became interested in joining the Sea Org. When I visited the Sea Org in Los Angeles for the first time, I was appalled at the living conditions. I saw one of the rooms where staff lived, a dingy room with eight filthy mattresses in a basement. I helped prepare food in the kitchen, where people were peeling slimy rotten leaves with little black bugs on them and serving what was left of the head of lettuce to the staff. Even though I was disgusted by what I saw, I justified what I saw by telling myself that Hubbard couldn't possibly know about these conditions.
I still wanted to join the Sea Org, but I was under 21, which was considered legal adult age at the time, and my parents refused. Even though I was very upset and angry with them there was nothing I could do. A few months later, I finally persuaded them to let me join, but at that time, I decided against it because the recruiter wouldn't guarantee me a staff position as an auditor. I decided to pay for my training as an auditor myself and join the Sea Org when I was more highly trained.
By October, 1972, I had become a Class VI auditor, which is considered to be a fairly high level of training and completed the Clearing Course, which made me a Scientology Clear. In January, 1973, I did a level known as OT III. The materials of OT III were to be kept strictly confidential, and I had been repeatedly told that OT III would explain why we were in the trap we were in on earth. We were required to keep the materials for all advanced courses in a locked briefcase whenever we left the course room with them. On OT III, we were given a packet of materials in Hubbard's handwriting that told the story of OT III.
Briefly, this is what we were told: 75 million years ago, there was a confederation of planets (Earth was one of them) called the Galactic Confederation that suffered from gross overpopulation. The leader, Zenu, decided to solve this problem by shipping people to volcanoes on earth, planting H-bombs on the volcanoes and blowing them up. The resulting spirits were collected and packaged together into clusters of spirits. These spirits were forcibly implanted with all kinds of information in the form of pictures of God, the Devil, spinning, for thirty-six days. Anyone who attempted to solve this on their own, Hubbard said, would end up getting caught up in the 36-days, be unable to sleep and eventually die of pneumonia. Hubbard said that he, alone had solved this implant, which he called Incident II, and, thus provided mankind, for the first time in 75 million years with a way out of the "trap."
The conclusion he came to is that we, on Earth, are now all possessed with hundreds of these clusters of spirits that live with us in our bodies. These spirits are called Body Thetans and on the level of OT III, we audit out these Body Thetans and find out who we really are.
Being as indoctrinated as I was, I believed this entire story. After I did OT III, I became more convinced than ever that I had to join the Sea Org. Sea Org members sign a one billion year contract. I joined the Sea 0rg on or about February, 1973. Because, at this point, I was a fairly highly trained auditor, I was immediately given a position as an auditor on staff at the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles.
In May, 1973, Mary Sue Hubbard personally invited me to come to the Flagship Apollo to train as an auditor. This was considered to be a great honor and was a reward I was given for auditing one of Mary Sue's key staff members in Los Angeles. She had been very pleased with my auditing.
I left for Flag in May, 1973. I was told that the location of the ship was to be kept strictly confidential. It was only on the day I left that I was told the location of the ship: Oporto, Portugal. Once I boarded the ship, my passport was taken from me "for safekeeping".
I was shown to my living quarters which was a very crowded stuffy, smelly room with about 50 bunkbeds called the women's dorm. This is where most of the single women on the ship lived. Just above the dorm was an area called the aft lounge, where I noticed teenage girls washing and ironing clothes all day long. One of these girls was Tonya Burden, who later sued the Church of Scientology. I found out that these girls were in training to be personal messengers for Hubbard.
Conditions on the ship were very crowded and discipline was harsh, particularly for auditors in training (interns) such as myself. As interns, we were expected to be perfect. If our auditing failed to produce the expected result, it was always considered to be our fault, never that the auditing didn't work because Hubbard created the auditing processes, which were flawless. If and when the auditors did get less than perfect results, they were considered to have evil intentions and were severely disciplined.
One method of discipline was a ritual called the Kali Ceremony. A hideous picture of the Goddess Kali, the Hindu goddess of death and destruction was put up in our classroom above an altar and a ritual was held for auditors that goofed up. In a darkened candlelit room, the auditors and interns were given sheets of lyrics for a hymn to the goddess Kali, sung to the tune of "Rock of Ages". After the hymn was sung, the offending auditor was made to "bow and scrape" to the goddess Kali and then was given a knife and a mock preclear folder and told to "stab the preclear" at which time the auditor had to stab the folder over and over. I had to participate in such a ceremony on two occasions and watched many others participate in this ceremony.
Another way we were disciplined was to spend four hours in the crow's nest. The crow's nest is a small bucket-like structure that is the highest point on the ship. It was reached by climbing up a small narrow ladder. I had to go to the crow's nest on two occasions. One time, I was so distraught, I had thoughts of letting go of the ladder and hurling myself to the ground, even though I had no prior history of being suicidal and have had no history of being suicidal since leaving the group.
I also witnessed a fourteen year old boy being locked up in the chain locker of the ship, where he was made to spend the night. The chain locker is a small dark space where the chain to the anchor to the ship is stored when the ship is not at anchor. The boy was being put in the chain locker by three teen-age L. Ron Hubbard messengers. I witnessed this happening several times to people, even though I never experienced it myself.
I was growing increasingly angry at what I was witnessing and experiencing on the ship, which I had been told prior to going there was the "sanest space on the planet". One evening, we were all gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and told we had to write letters to get paying public people to come to Flag. At that point, I couldn't stand it anymore and said, "If anyone ever wrote the truth about what really goes on here, nobody would want to come." For that, I was put in an ethics condition of Treason. Free speech was not a right we enjoyed on the ship.
At the end of 1973, Hubbard created the Rehabilitation Project Force (known as the "RPF") to deal with troublemakers aboard the ship and anyone who happened to displease him. Anyone who was considered to be a "nonproducer" who had a low score on his or her OCA personality test, was also a candidate for the RPF. This is the same test that is given to new people in Scientology, often passed out on the streets to prospective customers. Hubbard claimed that the RPF was an act of benevolence on his part to "rehabilitate" psychotic criminals. Actually, in my opinion and experience, the RPF was a prison camp.
On January 10, 1974, an ethics order was issued assigning the first group of people to the RPF. My name was on that list, I believe, because I had spoken my mind one too many times and was considered a troublemaker. Members of the RPF had to wear black or navy blue boiler suits, could not speak to other crew members unless spoken to, had to obey all orders without question, had to eat after everyone else had eaten and did menial labor, such as cleaning toilets. We were also to audit each other to "get off our overts and withholds", which in plain English means to confess our crimes.
I had requested a committee of evidence (Scientology's version of a hearing) to protest my assignment to the RPF. Hubbard's son, Quentin, who had become my friend, was assigned as chairman and he had no choice but to find me guilty on all charges and my assignment to the RPF was upheld.
A few weeks later, Quentin attempted suicide. As a result he was confined to isolation in his cabin for about three weeks and then assigned to the RPF. While on the RPF, Quentin and I became close friends.
Quentin and I both graduated from the RPF in May, 1974. I went back to my internship and, for a while did very well as an auditor. I had been assigned a person to audit who had a very low score on his personality test and after my auditing, there was a very big change in his score. As a result, I received a commendation from Hubbard, who stated that I was to be held up as an example of what Flag auditing is all about.
My status changed very quickly, however, as Quentin and I got closer. In late August, Quentin went away on a three week vacation. When he returned, in September, he confided to me that he had made, yet another suicide attempt. At this point, I was ordered to stop seeing Quentin, probably because I knew too much. I refused to stop seeing Quentin and continued to see him.
Soon after my disobedience, I started getting in trouble again for auditing "errors". In one case, a person I was auditing came down with a cold a week after I finished auditing him and Hubbard personally called for his folders.
I was blamed for gross auditing errors and Hubbard sent down an ethics order personally cancelling all of my certificates and ordering that a committee of evidence be convened on me. The person assigned as chairman of my committee was a person who was well known strongly to dislike me. I was found guilty on all charges and, once again, assigned to the RPF.
This time I had a very difficult time on the RPF and it seemed that it was being made very difficult for me to get out. I cleaned toilets day after day, month after month, and finally suffered from a complete emotional breakdown. I went through days where I was completely out of control, sobbing continuously. At one point I was assigned to what is known as the RPF's RPF, which is where people who get into trouble in the RPF were sent. In the RPF's RPF I had to spend the entire day and evening down in the bilges of the engine room, cleaning foul smelling muck and painting them. I was not allowed to communicate with anyone except the RPF's ethics officer and had to write up my ethics conditions, which he wouldn't accept for several days. I was to "find out who I really was", so I spent days trying to answer that question to his satisfaction. I finally did it and was returned to the RPF, but at that point, I was completely numb, emotionally and obeyed any orders I was given, without question.
In October, 1975, the Flagship Apollo was sold and the RPF was temporarily disbanded. (The RPF was reinstituted about a year later.) Once we moved to Clearwater, I was assigned to do Folder Error Summaries, which means going through people's auditing folders and noting down any errors that were made in the auditing. At that point, I just did my job and whatever I was told to do. Finally, in May, 1976, I was transferred to Los Angeles where I was assigned the position of Director of Processing at the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles. My RPF experience had been forgotten and I was once again in a position of high responsibility.
I was very unhappy in Los Angeles and missed my friends in Clearwater. I kept my distance from everyone at the org in Los Angeles and, as a result began to spend a great deal of time alone. This gave me some time to think and some of the mind control I had been under began to lessen. In July, 1976, my father had a heart attack and I had to fly to Philadelphia to visit him in the hospital. I was completely away from Scientology for three weeks. When I returned in August, 1976, the Sea Org and Scientology was beginning to look very bad to me. I had a fight with the person directly over me and, as a result, I refused to work with her and walked off my post of Director of Processing. I went back to doing the same work with the folders that I had been doing in Clearwater.
I began to realize that I had no control over or freedom in my life, whatsoever, and one day I had an experience of snapping out of my trance state. I realized that I was not happy and would need to make a decision.
Two weeks later, on August 21, 1976, I decided to leave, got on a Greyhound bus and went back to my parent's in Michigan. I experienced numerous after-effects from my experience in Scientology, including depression and having nightmares every night for a year after leaving. At the time, I was not in contact with anyone who knew about treating victims of cults and, as a result, did not receive counseling until 12 years later. I am currently in therapy with Lorna Goldberg, MSW, a psychotherapist who has 13 years experience treating victims of cults.
There is a great deal more I could say about what I experienced in those twelve years after leaving the group, and about my experiences in Scientology, but this statement is already very long. If anyone has any further questions, I would be more than happy to answer them.