Copyright 1996 Shelley Thomson; all rights reserved.
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Table of Contents for Biased Journalism.
Biased Journalism Volume 2, issue 17 September 23, 1996.
Bob Penny was born on May 25th, 1943 in Hodge, Louisiana. His father was a geophysicist whose work required frequent travel Bob spent his childhood moving from place to place, rarely spending more than six months in one city. He lived in Illinois, Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, and other parts of the country.
Childhood was hard for Bob because he never had friends for more than six months. The hardest move was from Kansas when he was in the fourth grade. He had formed his first real attachment to a girl there, and leaving her was a pain he never forgot. This was part of the reason Bob learned not to get close to people.
Bob moved to Denver in @ 1956. He attended high school in Denver and graduated in 1961, moving on to Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. At the end of his sophomore year he took a year off to work for an advertising photographer in New York. Bob returned to Brandeis for his junior year and graduated in 1966 with a major in sociology.
During his time at Brandeis Bob met Barbara Sommer. They had a daughter, Ruth, before they were married. They gave her up for adoption. Ruth found Barbara in 1994 and contact was re-established. Ruth now lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Bob and Barbara were married in Dayton, Ohio in 1966. The couple moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where Bob attended graduate school, working on a Ph.D. in sociology. After a year Bob dropped out to become a hippie.
Barbara and Bob moved to a commune in New Mexico where Bob built a house with adobe bricks. The house was lost in a fire within a year. The couple moved again, this time to California. Bob entered graduate school at the University of California at Davis. He was awarded a teaching assistantship. Their son Michael was born in September, 1968.
Their next move was to Berkeley, California. By 1970 Bob had completed all his Ph.D. coursework. He was hired as a teaching assistant at a new school in Los Angeles, the California Institute of the Arts. Bob and Barbara moved to Hollywood.
As events fell out, Bob never wrote his thesis. The students at the Institute were not much interested in sociology, so he started a car repair course in the parking lot of the Institute. This class was very popular.
During their time at the Institute Bob and Boarbara met several members of the Bay Area lesbian community. They became friends with Cathy Flint and Carol Lewis. The Institute did not renew Bob's teaching position after the first year, so Bob and Barbara moved back to Berkeley. Cathy Flint went with them. To earn a living, Bob fixed Volkswagens on the street. He also worked in a car shop owned by a Persian man who smoked opium. Bob fixed cars and gave many away, but he made enough money to support his family.
Bob considers that he was a bad father up until this point. He had no patience with Mike. A turning point in their relationship came one day when Cathy blew up at Bob and said to him, "Why don't you look at Mike, he's beautiful." This was a significant experience for Bob.
During this time Barbara had her first lesbian relationship. She moved in with a female friend and left Bob, Mike and Cathy Flint.
Bob and Mike moved into a Volkswagen bus. Bob did car work in people's driveways. It was not a stable lifestyle. Bob had a friend from Boulder, Colorado named Steve Keller. Steve did car repairs in Boulder. He came to Berkeley to visit Bob with the idea of setting up a car repair business together. They could not find a good location for the business in Berkeley, so Bob and Mike moved to Boulder.
Bob, Mike and Steve moved into a seven by seven foot cabin on Sugarloaf Mountain. There was no electricity or plumbing. They used kerosene lamps for lighting. They had to get coal for the stove by sled.
Bob and Steve rented a shop in Boulder and went into business fixing up Volvos and Volkswagens. The enterprise was called Steve and Bob's Garage. It was a success. Steve and Bob worked independently but helped each other out when necessary. Every day Mike went in with Bob to work.
One of their customers was named Linda. Bob fixed her car and and delivered it to her house on Sugarloaf Mountain. Linda's husband had been killed in a motorcycle accident, leaving her with two small girls.
Linda's problem was that the girls had to be picked up from day care at 5 p.m. every day. Linda was often late because she was spending time at the Denver Scientology Organization. Linda and Bob made an arrangement. Bob would pick up the girls every day and take them and Mike to Linda's house where he would feed them dinner. Linda was often moody. She and Bob had only a platonic relationship.
Linda bought Bob a trailer. Mike and Bob moved in. The back bedroom of the trailer was used to build a huge model train platform. It covered the whole room. Mike loved the model trains.
By late 1972, Bob was learning about Scientology from Linda. He went to the Boulder Mission to take the HQS (Hubbard Qualified Scientologist) Course. It took him eleven moths to complete. Bob was reading more and more about Scientology.
In 1973 Linda moved to Los Angeles to pursue Scientology and Bob and Mike followed her. They moved into Linda's house. In Los Angeles Bob completed the Dianetics Course and did the Scientology Levels 0-4 at ASHO (the American Saint Hill Organization). Mike went to live with Barbara while Bob was doing his levels at ASHO.
Bob completed his courses at ASHO in 1974 and went to Barbara's to get Mike. At Barbara's he met Susan, who was trying to fix her Volkswagen. Bob and Susan started a relationship, and Susan began to ask questions about Scientology.
Bob had nothing good to say about Scientology. He was very upset by things he had seen in Los Angeles, especially the conditions of the Cadet Organization where the children were kept. He was also upset by the way the ASHO staff was constantly trying to steal staff from the missions.
Bob and Mike returned to Boulder. But Susan went on her own to a mission in Sonoma County to find out about Scientology and she quickly became a dedicated Scientologist.
Back in Boulder Bob resumed fixing cars with Steve Keller. Mike entered a nearby elementary school. Bob kept getting phone calls from Barbara asking if he had a Volvo for Susan. Susan wanted a bigger car. A Volvo body showed up at the shop and Bob invited Susan to Boulder to help build the car.
Meanwhile, Bob had been taking a C/S (Case Supervisor) course at the Denver Organization, but he was still turned off by what he had seen in Los Angeles.
Susan came to Boulder a committed Scientologist. Bob tried to dissuade her by telling her stories about the Cadet Org and ASHO, but she wouldn't listen. Susan started going to the Boulder Mission and the Denver Org and building up her alliances.
In early 1975 Bob and Susan bought a new trailer and moved in. The relationship between Susan and Mike suffered because in the new trailer there wasn't room for the model trains. Bob and Susan lived together for a year, and then they were married on top of Long's Peak by a Scientology minister.
Through Susan Bob met Joe Duncanson of the Scientology OT Committee. The OT Committee was a group of Scientologists who met at the Duncanson's house. Bob did not enjoy the meetings. He didn't like the hype - all good news and no bad news. He didn't understand the fanaticism. And there began to be a language barrier. Everyone spoke in jargon. Bob says, "I was totally missing the point."
This became very clear to Bob one day at an air show. Bob loved air shows and wanted Mike to see one. This was a crucial day for Bob in his relationship with Susan. The show featured a spectacular performance by the Blue Angels. All during the event, Susan babbled about Scientology progress in China. Bob thought she was talking nonsense. He let it pass, but it was an indication of the widening split between them. Susan could not talk about anything except Scientology.
Bob developed an intense interest in astronomy and star photography. He built a telescope outside the trailer. To escape local light pollution he frequently took the telescope into the hills. Eventually he decided to take a field trip to an infrared telescope facility in Wyoming. Bob, Mike and Susan camped near the facility. They also brought their own telescope. This was the last straw for Susan. There were no bathrooms, no malls. She left, returning later to pick up Bob and Mike.
At this point Bob started his own company, SSD (Small System Design). He wrote software for the construction business. In November of 1975, a Flag Tours Event came to Boulder. Two Scientologists by the names of Lewis and Schwartz visited Bob and Susan at the trailer for the purpose of getting money from them. Lewis and Schwartz saw that Susan was vulnerable. They steamrollered her, and she agreed to do whatever they wanted.
The plan was to get a bank loan against the newly founded company. Bob was totally against the idea because he didn't want to go into debt. He let Susan go to the bank because he was sure the bank would turn down her request for a loan. But Lewis and Schwartz coached Susan and she was a good talker. The bank gave her a check for $20,000 and she turned it over to the Scientologists.
The money was for an OT Package for Bob. Susan thought that Bob was ungrateful. The Scientology registrars separated Bob and Susan, and Bob felt that Susan lost her identity to them. That was the beginning of the end of the relationship. Susan had become alienated.
Life at home became very tense. Bob tried to avoid arguments. Still involved with Scientology, he had to go through various Ethics handlings and Doubt Conditions writeups.
In January of 1976, Bob and Susan bought a house on Oakdale Street in Boulder and designed a solarium for it. Bob built an office for SSD above the garage.
Two months later (March, 1976) the Flag Tour returned. The object this time was to sell Susan an OT package. The two registrars made Bob feel completely worthless and helpless. At first they said they had made a mistake when they had come in November and they were coming back to repair the damage they had done. But it was obvious they had come to sell Susan a "Bridge." Bob said, "Take mine." They were not amused.
The registrars managed to get Susan to make another $20,000 bank loan.
This second visit dragged on and on, finally becoming a nightmare. At one point the registrars pinned Bob up against the wall in the solarium and physically intimidated him. The registrars treated the house like their own property. They walked into Susan and Bob's bedroom without permission. Bob tried to ignore them. They told Bob, "You have no influence here at all." Susan supported them.
There was a showdown in Bob's office in the house. The registrars surrounded Bob and badgered him until he gave up. They left him psychologically shattered. After they were gone Susan admitted that what had happened in the house was wrong, but she wouldn't admit that there was anything wrong with the bank loans.
Bob and Susan continued to run SSD. Suzanne Keller, Steve's wife and also a Scientologist, worked in sales. All the money the company made from sales went to pay off the two bank loans.
Bob and Susan went to Flag in Clearwater, Florida, for a marriage counseling course. They did an Ethics course. Supposedly everything was resolved when they returned to Boulder in early summer of 1976. In reality nothing was resolved for Bob.
Bob went back to work writing software for SSD. He was still rattled by the second Flag Sales Tour and was not really feeling sane. He was furious with the registrars and feels he might have killed them if they had still been there. It would be several months before he calmed down. He was still angry at Susan but also felt that it wasn't really her fault. She was a pawn of Scientology, a victim.
Susan and Bob continued to live together. They talked about their differences but Susan didn't seem to care. She still wouldn't admit that she had done anything wrong.
In December of 1977, Bob and Susan went to visit Susan's parents in Pennsylvania and Dan, their first child, was conceived. They returned to Boulder. During the pregnancy they continued to live and work together, Bob doing the programming and Susan in charge of sales. Dan Penny was born in September of 1978.
The relationship remained tense. Susan was still in contact with Scientology, but Bob didn't know with whom. Susan's friends were all Scientologists. Bob's weren't, and this was an issue between them. Bob found the Scientologists boring. All they talked about were their "wins" (positive experiences in Scientology).
Meanwhile, Mike, now ten years old, started a Study Course in Scientology. It was an unpleasant experience. Mike and his Course Supervisor, Les Braverman, detested each other. Mike hated going to the Boulder Mission. He wrote to Barbara, arranged a visit, and went to stay with her with Bob's approval. Mike remained with Barbara through high school, and did not return to Boulder until November of 1987.
Throughout the early 1980's most of the staff at SSD were Scientologists. Susan continued to work in sales with Suzanne Keller. Scientologists John and Louise Smith were hired; they both belonged to the Sea Organization (the name of the central organization in Scientology, so called because it first existed on a flotilla of ships commanded by L. Ron Hubbard). Louise worked in accounting and John did sales.
Gail Kelly was SSD's first support person. She refused to take Scientology's Communication Course (an introductory course designed to indoctrinate new recruits) and declined to become a Scientologist. Gail lived in an Episcopal rooming house run by Father Jerry. He was eventually hired at SSD as a gofer. Father Jerry came and went several times.
Meanwhile Bob devoted his energies to writing software, often working twenty hours a day. He and Susan were still living together. In early 1981 Susan disclosed that she was pregnant again. Susan had lied to Bob about birth control. Bob felt betrayed because he had wanted to plan the second pregnancy. He was not pleased with Susan.
During this pregnancy Susan announced that she was in telepathic communication with the fetus. Bob felt stark terror. "What kind of bullshit am I into?" His reaction to his mounting fear about the marriage was to bury himself in work. He wrote software all night long and slept during the day.
Camille Penny was born in October of 1981. Bob and Susan were still sharing the house at Oakdale, staying together for the sake of the company and the children. The arguments between Bob and Susan intensified after Camille's birth. Scientology was the major source of friction.
In 1984 Ann Weber replaced Gail Kelly as a support person at SSD. By this time the company had moved to offices on Sterling Drive, the first of several moves the company would make in the next few years. Ann re-created the support department, turning it into a profit center for the company by selling support packages. Gifted with intelligence and leadership ability, Ann kept the company going. And she never took the Scientology Communication Course.
Between 1984 and 1986 SSD released Version 4.0 of the SSD software. The company had high hopes for the new release. However, SSD had been so thoroughly looted by the loans for Scientology there was insufficient capital to promote the new version. Bob felt that an important window of opportunity had been missed.
The relationship with Susan continued to deteriorate. Bob's attitude toward Susan was that he was in a no win situation. He felt that he had seen too much. He was still in love with Susan and he could not endure the conflict between them. He buried himself in work.
As 1986 began, Dan and Camille were in elementary school and Mike was still in California with his mother.
Early in 1986 Bob went to Santa Fe to visit a friend. Bob had just finished writing the documentation for Version 4.0 and was burned out. He desperately needed a vacation. In Santa Fe he received a telephone call from Ann. She told him that the OT Committee had seized control of SSD. They had fired Ron Kaufman, the president, and replaced him with Susan.
Bob hurried back to Boulder. His first stop was in Denver at Stu Gelb's Scientology mission to find out what was going on. Stu gave Bob an ultimatum: control of the company would be returned to him if he would agree to go to Flag in Clearwater, Florida to do the OT package auditing that had been paid for in 1975.
Bob agreed to go. Then he went to SSD and confronted Susan. The decision was reached that Ron Kaufman would be rehired to run the company and Bob would go to Flag to do his auditing.
Bob proceeded to Flag and did his Solo Course and the OT Levels I through V. Susan had great hopes for this auditing. She thought that Bob would come back from Clearwater a committed Scientologist and that he would become the Case Supervisor for all of Colorado.
Instead, Bob found the OT levels a total disappointment. And one day a recruiter for the International Association of Scientologists stormed into the courseroom and demanded $2000 from everyone, which was the price of an IAS lifetime membership. The money was to go into a war chest to be used in litigation against opponents of Scientology. Bob thought the recruiter's tactics were completely inappropriate. This violation of the courseroom turned him off. He considered this to be extortion.
Paul Koval, the boyfriend of Bob's friend Linda, was the Technical Secretary at Flag while Bob was doing the OT levels. (Paul had been on OT III for over a year. Later it was determined that he had been overrun.) Bob had been on OT III (Operating Thetan Level 3) for a couple of weeks. On OT III one is auditing body thetans, a Scientology term for the foreign entities attached to one's body. In other words, one is supposedly exorcising one's demons. Bob's tone arm action (movement of a dial on the E-meter) was rising, a bad sign. He was sent for a repair list (an auditing process designed to find out what had gone wrong with auditing) and an overrun (meaning he had been audited too much on this level) was determined. Bob was then allowed to attest to completing OT III.
On OT IV Bob learned that there were more body thetans to audit, those who had been on drugs in this and former lives. Bob started OT V and there he learned there were even more body thetans which he was to blow by inspection (get rid of them just by "spotting" them). His auditor he remembers as being very serious. The Level dragged on and on. Bob had already had to purchase another expensive package of auditing and he was worried about needing even another one. He was determined not to drive SSD further into debt.
He was sent to Review. Again it was determined that he was overrun and he was allowed to attest to OT V. Scientology was trying to pressure him into buying two very expensive new levels, the L's. Bob told the registrars that he had to go home and raise some more money, and that he would come right back. Bob was given a routing form which he completed in order to go home.
By then Bob was turned off by the constant demand for more money, as well as the IAS intrusion into the courseroom. It reminded him of Amway. But Scientology was trying to sell nothing for something. There was nothing to the OT Levels, other than the prestige one gained by having completed them, having gone through the "wall of fire." To Bob it was all bullshit.
Bob needed someone to talk to. He had a friend living in Clearwater on a boat and he went looking for her but she was not at home. He wandered the streets for several hours before he went back to his room. The next day he flew back to Boulder. He talked the airport bus driver into taking him all the way to the Oakdale house.
Bob came back completely unimpressed by Flag (the Scientology headquarters in Clearwater). He resumed work at SSD. It was difficult because Susan, Suzanne and Louise expected him to be totally gung-ho toward Scientology. They expected Bob to join staff at the Boulder mission. Bob was not interested.
Susan was dismayed. She wanted Linda Johnson's husband to straighten out the situation. Bob was given several Ethics handlings over a period of several months, with no result.
By early 1987 the relationship with Susan had become extremely painful for Bob. The marriage had lost all warmth. Susan was hostile even though they were still married. In the fall of 1987 there was an encounter between Susan and Bob in which she said, "You're dead." Bob knew what she meant. He was not doing the cult thing which everyone expected him to do.
In November Susan suggested a divorce and Bob jumped at the chance. He was still living at the Oakdale house; Mike had returned and was living in the basement. After the decision to get a divorce, Bob and Mike went to look for a new place to live. They found a house on Miro Court in Niwot and within twenty-four hours they had moved.
Dan and Camille were nine and six years old. Susan and Bob decided on split custody and a separation agreement was drawn up. Bob agreed to everything Susan said, including the joint custody. Susan would have custody of Dan and Camille from mid-Sunday until Thursday, and Bob would have custody from Thursday night until mid-Sunday.
The divorce was filed in November of 1987 and final in March of 1988. It was uncontested. Susan and Bob, however, were still working together. Susan owned almost half of the company.
After the divorce Ann spearheaded a palace revolt within SSD. Bob had a tiny majority. Together they threw Susan out and made Bob president. Susan eventually stopped working at SSD. Louise and Suzanne left as well.
The revolt brought Ann and Bob together. Andy Sesser, who worked for Ann in support, was another leader in the revolt. (Susan was very unpopular.) Janie Vanderberg, who worked in marketing, also helped in the revolt. She hated Susan because Susan was often rude to dealers in true Scientology style, and this made Janie's job more difficult.
Now Bob had his company back. There was no serious selling for several years. Ann found a marketing company in Denver, the Cliftons, a husband and wife team. They drew up a sales and marketing strategy for SSD. The results were successful.
This was how Ann got to know Bob. They became good friends, although the relationship remained platonic. They both liked old movies and they started going to movies on Monday nights at the Boulder Public Library.
I am uncomfortable when he talks about me...lots of wishful thinking. Few have ever been able to understand our relationship, including us, and now that Bob is so ill he interprets it as he would like it to have been or wants it to be. Understand that he feels very alone in this illness, and feels himself fading away, and is trying to cling to life/a chance for happiness/relationships.
When we eliminated his ex-wife from the company, Bob and I were suddenly running a company she had put in tremendous debt with no money to get it out - all had gone to $ci. At the same time my husband took a job out of town and we had a commuter marriage. Bob laments that during that period we did not have an affair. I don't. I was married and had been for 25+ years and wanted to stay that way.
Our youngest child had started college that year, and two months later my husband Chester left, in the beginning of a mid-life crisis that ultimately doomed our marriage. Suddenly I was no longer a wife/mother but was left on my own for the first time in my life. All my usual patterns were gone. Bob and the company gave me a new kind of stimulation and interest that filled a void. It became more than that tho, because I became a much more independent person. I had both worlds that many women envy -a wife/mother with 2 children and then a professional career where my future was my own making.
Bob and I threw everything of ourselves into figuring out how to make the company survive, which meant helping each other through anything that happened. As his illness worsened I was left with running the company and taking care of him.
This is when I was given the Power of Attorney. Bob had been diagnosed, had 2 minor children and majority ownership of the company that he had wrested away from his ex-wife and $ci. He was in a period of great fear that the minor children would become entrapped in $ci. Their mother had them spending a lot of time at the "mission" and wanted to put them in $ci schools. Bob went to court on custody issues to ensure that she could not make the education decisions alone. He also got the court to order that they receive psychological counseling.
The PA was necessary to run the company. There was the need for a PA in regard to his personal matters. Bob did not want to make any kind of vestage with the children because $ci might take over their lives. My role was that if anything happened to Bob (we had no idea what this disease would do,) at that time I would look at where/what the children were and handle his estate accordingly. If $ci was part of their lives, they weren't/aren't to get anything. This is Bob's wish.
Bob's illness precluded him from working at the company. Suddenly I was left with it on my own. He turned to the Holy War against $ci because it was something he could do despite the illness and because of his fears for the children. I promised to help him because he needed something in his life in exchange for his devotion to the company. I wanted him to be able to achieve at least this goal. So I'm in that too.
Despite all the odds, the company is still there. It took enormous energy, perseverence, and commitment. It and Bob's situation were my only focus in life. Bob and I became very close. Through all of this we have developed an absolute trust in each other that you rarely see in any kind of relationship. As I said, we didn't know how to classify our relationship. But we are very different, and we knew that marriage or living together or anything like that was out of the question. --Ann]
Within a year of the divorce Susan married Robert, the head of the Boulder Mission of Scientology.
In 1990, Mike registered for an accounting class at C.U. and Bob went with him. Bob was trying to get back in gear. He was going to the office every day, but was troubled by lethargy and spaciness. That summer Bob drove Ann to Loveland to visit Ann's mother in a nursing home. On the way back he started to see double and he knew that something was very wrong.
In November of 1990 Bob was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. An MRI test showed the telltale lesions in his brain. That winter Bob was unable to attend a Cult Awareness Network conference because of his exhaustion. In January, Bob suffered a serious exacerbation of his MS. He spent six weeks on Ann's couch, unable to make it in to work. Ann found a walking stick belonging to Chester's father, and Bob started to use it.
Bob knew he couldn't function at 100% in the office, so he stayed away as a way of convincing people that they (not he) would have to do the work. Bob filed for disability through SSD, and after several months he began to receive disability checks.
Ann was now running the company. Ron Kaufman had left. From 1991, Ann has continuously run the company, pulling it out of slump after slump.
Bob didn't want Susan influencing the two children towards Scientology, and he had become worried about some of Dan and Camille's behavior. He filed a motion in court for modification of custody, asking the judge to order counseling for the children. Bob won the motion and then a counselor was agreed on. The court ordered the children to be seen weekly by Patty Bowen. Dan saw her for about a year and Camille saw her until the end of the school year.
Susan tried to start a Scientology school for Dan and Camille. Bob insisted on a mediation session and Christine Coates was the mediator chosen by the court. Bob accused Susan of trying to get the children into Scientology and Bob told her that if she did, he would take her to court. Susan backed down and the children were allowed to continue in public schools.
In 1992, Bob co-authored a book about Scientology. He was able to attend the Cult Awareness Network conference in Oklahoma City where the book was sold. The book is now available on the Internet.
The next major event in Bob's life was the founding of F.A.C.T.Net, an electronic bulletin board system aimed at cults, and especially Scientology. He started this venture with Lawrence Wollersheim, who was then living in Golden, Colorado in a house owned by Jill Hull, who also participated in F.A.C.T.Net.
F.A.C.T.Net was originally Lawrence's idea. Bob developed the software for the system. Lawrence wrote documents regarding the purpose, agenda and organization of F.A.C.T.Net. Bob was the computer expert who put it into operation. The software he used was PC Board, one of the largest bulletin board systems in the country. However, Bob felt that Lawrence lived in a fantasy world. Lawrence and Bob had different approaches to computer hardware and software which led to a clash of temperaments. In spite of this, Bob got F.A.C.T.Net up and running, paring down Lawrence's complex ideas to a simpler and more workable structure.
They took F.A.C.T.Net to the CAN (Cult Awareness Network) conference in 1993, hoping for support from CAN, which they never got. American Family Foundation was more helpful and gave F.A.C.T.Net material to put online. Bob and Lawrence worked together to get F.A.C.T.Net off the ground. Lawrence was in charge of fundraising. His biggest contribution to F.A.C.T.Net was that he got it insured.
Scientology found out about F.A.C.T.Net during the CAN conference in 1993. Bob was then the technical director of F.A.C.T.Net. The Scientology lawyers started sending F.A.C.T.Net letters about alleged copyright infringements because F.A.C.T.Net had posted a Keeping Scientology Working newletter (a Scientology publication). No technical materials of Scientology were posted. The most controversial item posted was the book "Road to Xenu," which Bob had co-authored.
Meanwhile there was much legal activity going on with Scientology against disaffected ex-members. The Gerry Armstrong case had been litigated. Lawrence Wollersheim's case against Scientology went to the U.S. Supreme Court and back to the appellate court. The award of $5 million to Lawrence was confirmed.
The church successfully took Enid Vien to court for using Scientology procedures to make money. She lost her case and had to pay an undisclosed amount of money. David Mayo, who had helped to write some of the materials of the OT levels, became involved in litigation.
Dennis Erlich in California had begun to post Scientology materials on the Internet along with his criticism. The church made use of copyright law to obtain a civil search and seizure order. One day Erlich's home was raided by Scientologists with the help of local law enforcement. They took all the Scientology materials from Dennis' apartment. Bob knew that he, too, would soon be raided. F.A.C.T.Net was stored on Bob's computer. He began backing up the F.A.C.T.Net system onto tape and he installed high security locks on his doors and windows.
The raid occurred in 1994. It began early in the morning. Bob was still in bed. He was awakened by a whole crowd of people outside his door - sheriffs, marshalls and Scientologists, a dozen or more people. The sheriff pounded on the door, demanding entry and saying that he had a warrant. Bob tried to ignore it all and went back to bed. Then he remembered that his dog, Maia, was outdoors. Bob remembered the stories about Judge Swearinger's dog being killed in his swimming pool, and he decided to let everyone in because of his anxiety about Maia.
The raiders crowded into Bob's house and the situation was soon out of control. People swarmed everywhere, going through Bob's things. He felt completely overwhelmed, partly because of his MS and his short attention span. Bob went outside to get some peace and quiet. He called Ann and told her what was happening.
Ann called SSD's lawyer, Cliff Neuman. One of Cliff's associates was soon on the scene. Ann and the associate sat outside with Bob. Their job was to observe everything that happened. They got a receipt for everything that the Scientologists took. Ann also took steps to alert the mediam and she endured that the media covered the raid.
Bob later found out that on the same day the same thing was happening to Lawrence Wollersheim; however, Lawrence did not get a receipt for the things taken from his house.
Bob was overwhelmed. The Scientologists were going through his desk drawers, disks and tapes, putting things in plastic bags and taking them to a van parked outside.
Paul from SSD brought a video camera and videotaped the raid. He took the pictures through the windows because Ann and Paul were not allowed inside Bob's house during the raid. The sheriff was not apologetic. He said he was just doing his job.
The Scientologists took not only Bob's computer, but also Dan's computer and computer games. They took a scanner and a CD ROM recorder and all CD ROMs, both blank and filled. So they obtained possession of F.A.C.T.Net. Then they left.
The first hearings were held in Denver before Judge Kane. Bob was in overload and doesn't remember much of the hearings other than Lawrence Wollersheim giving testimony. The result was favorable to F.A.C.T.Net. Scientology was ordered to give all the seized items back immediately.
Soon after, everyone met in the offices of F.A.C.T.Net attorneys Faegre and Benson, and the Scientologists brought in the seized computers and other materials. A computer was turned on and its contents proved to be unrecognizable. Many of the system files had been changed drastically. Bob and Lawrence suspected that Scientology had tampered with the machines. The matter was quickly brought before the court. Judge Kane appointed a special master to assess the situation.
What the Scientologists returned was not what they had seized. An example was Dan Penny's computer. It was returned with only DOS and Windows 3.1 on it. Some of his email was returned but his game files were gone. Lawrence's computer had also been tampered with.
When Bob got a good look at the returned computers he saw that they had suffered drastic alterations. The many hours he had spent working out hardware conflicts to assemble a smoothly functioning, cutting edge system were destroyed. The F.A.C.T.Net computer functioned minimally, but the system was damaged and he could not make it work again as it had done before.
The Scientologists claimed to have found thousands of copyright violations in the F.A.C.T.Net materials.
Where the suit stands now: F.A.C.T.Net is still being sued for copyright infringements. Scientology has made a motion for a Summary Judgement, and the F.A.C.T.Net attorneys must file a response by August 15th, 1996. [subsequent events have moved this deadline to January 1997]
The raids received extensive media coverage. Articles appeared in the Longmont Times-Call, in several weekly newspapers, in the Denver papers and on Channel 9 TV.
Meanwhile, Lawrence quarreled with the F.A.C.T.Net attorneys. The lead attorney, Tom Kelly, finally refused to speak with him; Kelly's assistant Natalie Hanlon-Leh took on the burden of managing the lawsuit on a day-to-day basis. Soon after this Faegre and Benson withdrew as attorneys in the case.
Bob is still on the Board of Directors of F.A.C.T.Net. [This has changed. See the note at the end.] Lawrence is Executive Director and Arnie Lerma is in charge of Treasury. Bob is not now in a condition to keep up with F.A.C.T.Net. F.A.C.T.Net is, in fact, no longer operational. Lawrence is in charge of the legal affairs and is trying to get F.A.C.T.Net set up with an endowment so that it can once again become operational.
Bob feels he has nothing to lose in the trial over F.A.C.T.Net. Scientology can't take his house or his disability insurance. But he does know, based upon the experiences of many others like David Mayo, Dennis Erlich, and Enid Vien, that Scientology will do everything they can do to make his life miserable. He is prepared for that.
July 30, 1996
[Two weeks later Bob Penny was removed from the board of F.A.C.T.Net by Lawrence Wollersheim and Arnie Lerma, who discarded Faegre and Benson and picked Graham Berry to head a new legal team. Wollersheim went on to threaten Penny with a lawsuit. News articles "Inside FACTNet" in Biased Journalism Volume 2 no. 16 and "Divide and Conquer" in the Boulder Weekly revealed these events.]
On September 13 Bob Penny gave us the following statement:
"I agree with Lawrence Wollersheim on vital issues - the mission of FACTNet, the need to fight for cult victim advocacy, the need for available information on cults for those victims and their families, the need to fight Scientology (since Scientology has declared itself our enemy through the raids and its suit) and the need to protect the future of FACTNet and its public image.[Biased Journalism will continue to cover events related to FACTNet.]
"For some time we have differed on how to protect FACTNet and its image. These differences have encompassed the presentation of literacy and relevance in FACTNet's communications, the approach to legal issues, and the handling of insurance and donated funds for legal fees. Unfortunately, these differences have become insurmountable.
"Lawrence's actions show what cults can do to people. He sees enemies everywhere - it saddens me that he includes me among those enemies. He has to control all those around him - since 'my protectors' and I could not be controlled I had to be eliminated. He sees his truth as the only truth - he demands that I present his truth to everyone at my own expense. He believes that FACTNet must survive on his principles - I believe that his terms and actions are as fatal to FACTNet as the possibility that Scientology wins the fight against it. That is why I allowed our differences to be revealed.
"There have been questions about what can be done for me. Help FACTNet survive. It needs at least three more members of the Board immediately. Find a way to make this happen. Find people who believe in the mission of FACTNet and who are able to fight for it. Start a list of nominations in the newsgroup and demand that the by-laws of FACTNet that require 5 board members be followed. Then, donate funds for legal and operating expenses. Update the Web page. Keep the issues in front of the public. Protect cult victims and inform the world about the dangers of cults.
"For the future of FACTNet, demand that your voices be heard.
"Your concern for me has strengthened my resolve. The flame wars are divisive. Let's turn them to our advantage. No one has fought Scientology as successfully as Lawrence Wollersheim. We are all fighting the same self-professed enemy - Scientology. His ultimate goal is the same as ours. Support Lawrence on this issue. Once FACTNet's future is assured, turn the direction of the newsgroup back to the battle for available information for cult victims."
On more than one occasion, the RICO monster has raised its head above the clambed, usually at low tide. What exactly is this beast? Why do grown litigators (lawyerese for the minority of lawyers who actually file and defend lawsuits) cry at the sight of a RICO complaint? Just what does "racketeering" have to do with a.r.s.? And why should you give -- or eat -- a hill of beans?
[Notice for the humor impaired: I'm half serious. It's up to you to figure out which half. Maybe it will help your entheta level to engage in deep analysis. Maybe not.]
Disclaimer: This ain't legal advice. There is a high probability that I'm not licensed in your jurisdiction. If a RICO suit is served upon you, run, do not walk, to a lawyer who specializes in RICO actions. DO NOT attempt to defend a RICO suit pro se (or, as they say in California, pro per).
Additional disclaimer: I am a plaintiff's lawyer who uses RICO on a daily basis. My views may be a bit jaundiced by this perspective. This article is intended only to help laypersons become a little less ignorant about RICO suits, so that their level of ignorance rises to that of the lawyers.
Not every violation of law is a predicate act under RICO. To turn a garden variety suit into a RICO suit, one must commit one of the activities listed in 18 U.S.C. sec. 1961(1) in a manner that affects interstate commerce. This laundry list ranges from murder to bribery to witness tampering to drug trafficking to the three most common predicates (in civil cases):(3)
The RICO enterprise is the organization that is accomplishing the nefarious end. The enterprise is linked closely to the RICO "person," the party who is responsible for the enterprises actions. However, the enterprise cannot be the same thing as the person (known as "merger"). For example, if one wanted to sue the Mafia under RICO, one would probably name the Corleone family business as the enterprise and Don Corleone as the person.(4) However, a RICO enterprise doesn't need to be a formal agreement. An association in fact is sufficient. For example, the clams might claim that Grady Ward, Ron Newman, and (gasp!) the publisher of this fine piece of Biased Journalism have worked together enough to create an enterprise dedicated to the unjustified denigration of their religious beliefs and practices (even though that would NOT be a RICO predicate act), even if there was no actual conspiracy.
The last element of RICO is the RICO theory and scheme. The scheme is the continuous pattern of activity that harms the victim. For example, one instance of fraud -- however despicable -- does not create a RICO scheme. Two might. Twenty over a five-year period probably will.(5) The scheme alleged is linked to the kind of substantive RICO violation. There are four types of RICO violations (and these descriptions are VERY general):
We are also interested in articles on topics unrelated to scientology but consistent with our larger purpose, which is to cover issues of interest to the citizens of cyberspace and to support freedom of expression on the net.
The corporate news media spend a great deal of time on stories which are not (in our opinion) real news. Beginning very [much too] soon local television reporters will be devoting live news coverage to *Christmas shopping*, interviewing happy suburban matrons with their arms full of packages from Neiman's and Gumps. Next we will have an inspirational message about breast cancer and a word about the war against drugs. We will be told What The President Did Today, with photos and sound bytes. And then the weather. And All The Sports [DOOM not included].
You have just seen the corporate television news. Solid newspapers are better, but not much. There is the occasional splendid and revealing article (most recently, the series in the San Jose Mercury about the CIA-drug connection), but many stories are simply too threatening to the vested interests to be aired. Among these are the exploding revolution in Mexico, the growing use of prison labor to compete with private industry, the economics of confiscating 1,000,000 junk cars, the proliferation of cellular telephones and other sources of biologically active radiation, what they feed the steer you just ate, and [insert your favorite item here].
Is real news happening in your community? You bet. And you are not going to see it in your conglomerate newspaper anytime soon. Biased Journalism is a newspaper of cyberspace. We can report the stories that cybercitizens need to see. We can show the world as it looks to you.
If you would like to help, talk to us. We can use writers, reporters, researchers and helpers. <cough> and subscribers. We almost forgot that.
Watch for our web site, coming soon to an isp near you.
"What a mean guy," the rat grinned through its whiskers.
"He considered removing the LIMITED DISTRIBUTION header in the NOTs bulletin, but in the end he left it, considering that to remove it would be an 'alteration of the tech.'" "One last thing," the rat added. "The envelopes were clearly marked in blue: "ARSCC Bulk Mailing."
Closer to home, we have learned that two prominent netizens whose antics have long enlivened #scientology have decided to merge. The lady, an aggressive debater and strict disciplinarian, is moving in with her most loyal follower, whose name suggests seafood. We wish them well and look forward to a kinder, gentler newsgroup. Notice to netizens: housewarming gifts should be kept in good taste, please!