Scientology Critical Information Directory

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Richard Leiby and Scientology

Washington Post (2005): "Scientology; Richard Leiby"

Leiby has covered the Church of Scientology for 26 years, on and off, ever since he was a young reporter in Clearwater, Fla., where Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard established an international headquarters in the 1970s. In 1979-80, he covered the criminal proceedings against 11 Scientology officials convicted of participating in plots to plant spies in federal agencies, break into government offices, steal documents and bug at least one IRS meeting. (Among those convicted was Hubbard's third wife, Mary Sue.) Over the years, Leiby has reviewed thousands of pages of Scientology internal policy documents and its uppermost teachings. In 1995, the church sued The Post, Leiby and another Post reporter in an attempt to prevent publication of its copyrighted, secret scriptures. The church lost the case.

Frank K. Flinn , adjunct professor of religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., was online Tuesday, July 5, at 3 p.m. ET to discuss Scientology.

The transcript of the discussion with Richard Leiby follows. [...]

Washington Post (2002): "Ex-Scientologist Collects $8.7 Million In 22-Year-Old Case"

Nearly 22 years ago, Lawrence Wollersheim, a disaffected member of the Church of Scientology, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles accusing the church of mental abuse that pushed him to the brink of suicide. Teams of lawyers and various rulings came and went, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judgments against the church hit $30 million, then dropped to $2.5 million.

But the Church of Scientology never paid -- until yesterday, when officials wrote a check for more than $8.6 million to end the case, one of the longest-running in California history. [...]

Washington Post (1998): "The Life & Death of a Scientologist"

"I am L. Ron Hubbard," the woman on the hotel room bed announced in a robotic voice. "I created time 3 billion years ago." She rambled on and on, every outburst dutifully scribbled down by those assigned to watch her.

"I can't confront force . . . I need my auditor . . . I want to take a toothbrush and brush the floor until I have a cognition."

The jargon of Scientology was instantly familiar to anyone who entered the room in the Fort Harrison Hotel, part of an elite training center and retreat established here by Hubbard, the science fiction writer and self-styled religious leader. It was also obvious to her fellow Scientologists that Lisa McPherson had cracked up.

"Out of control," one wrote.

Beginning Nov. 18, 1995, Scientology staffers -- following Hubbard's regimen for dealing with psychotic members -- kept McPherson isolated in that room 24 hours a day, refusing to speak to her, trying to force-feed her, plying her with vitamins and herbal concoctions and injecting her with sedatives, according to several accounts that are now part of court records. She furiously resisted: She pounded the walls, tried to escape, attacked a staffer with a potted plant. In her delirium, records say, she defecated on herself and drank her own urine. [...]

Washington Post (1995): "Church in Cyberspace"

[...] If the court clerk's daily visitors made it difficult for citizens to see the public file, some copies of the documents nonetheless got out. Lerma says several former Scientologists passed the copies among themselves and then gave them to him; he then used a scanner to put them onto the Internet. Lerma also put the copies in an envelope and sent them to Richard Leiby, a Washington Post reporter who has written frequently about Scientology. On the evening after the raid on Lerma's house, church lawyer Helena Kobrin and Scientology executive Warren McShane arrived unannounced at Leiby's home and demanded all copies he might have of the disputed documents. Weiland says Scientology representatives went to Leiby's home "because Arnie Lerma gave stolen materials to Richard Leiby to hide." Lerma says he sent the papers to the reporter in search of publicity. This week, at Lerma's request, The Post returned the papers. [...]

Washington Post (1994): "Scientology Fiction: The Church's War Against Its Critics — and Truth"

ONE DAY in November, Arnaldo P. Lerma, an audio-video technician from Arlington, opened his front door and encountered two unsmiling men in dark suits. He tensed up; he recognized them as the strangers who had been tailing him as he drove into town that morning.

"We represent the Church of Scientology," one of the men said. Lerma hurriedly shut the door. [...]

Clearwater Sun (1981): "Sect courses resemble science fiction"

At the Fort Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater, Scientologists are learning to leave their bodies, control other people's thoughts and communicate with plant life. They learn this by reliving a galactic holocaust carried out by space creatures millions of years ago.

So say top-secret Scientology documents spelling out the highest level of training available to church members. It is training that costs thousands of dollars and, according to church defectors who provided the documents, amounts to nothing but a swindle dreamed up by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The goal of the training is to reach "OT"- the level of "operating thetan." At this level, Scientologists gain the power to control "thought, life, matter, energy, space and time," says Hubbard. But first they must free themselves of damaging spirits acquired when Earth was reduced to a nuclear wasteland 75 million years ago, he says.

Last week, a Pinellas Circuit Court judge committed a former Scientologist to a state mental hospital after he claimed that the thetans - or spirits-of other Scientologists had invaded his body. Francis Diamond, a former downtown Clearwater businessman, insisted thetans were real; he brought a Hubbard book to his hearing to prove it. [...]

Clearwater Sun (1981): "Psychiatrist: Sect drove man insane"

A downtown Clearwater businessman who last year joined the Church of Scientology was committed to a Mental hospital Monday after a psychiatrist testified that Scientology apparently contributed to the man's insanity.

Francis G. Diamond, 45, a successful antique dealer before his breakdown, told Circuit Judge William Walker that other Scientologists' "thetans," or spirits, had invaded his body during counseling sessions and now control him.

"It's not something out of Star Trek-it happens," insisted Diamond, who brought a book by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to corroborate his defense.

The book states that "Operating thetans" - advanced - level Scientologists can leave their bodies and "control or operate thought, life, matter, energy, space and time."

The commitment hearing was at Horizon Hospital, a psychiatric facility on U.S. 19 where Diamond was taken by police after friends grew concerned about his behavior. [...]

Clearwater Sun (1980): "Lawyer's days in Clearwater spawn mystery"

Mention of the name Merrell Vannier prompts interesting reactions in Clearwater legal and social circles these days: throats clear loudly, eyebrows furrow and, sometimes, cheeks flush red.

Vannier is remembered as a mild-mannered and likeable man by those who know him as an attorney and local Jaycee member in 1976 and 1977. He is described as outgoing when it came to making new friends but curiously protective of his personal life.

Last week Merrell George Vannier, now 32, was accused of being a Church of Scientology spy in a lawsuit filed -by former mayor Gabriel Cazares, whom Vannier represented in battles with the church. [...]

Clearwater Sun (1979): "Cover Blown, 2 spies came in from the cold"

June and Jodie were Scientology spies-and apparently pretty good ones.

They obtained jobs with The Clearwater Sun and the Greater Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, filed comprehensive reports about the sect's purported " enemies"' and, when necessary, spread scandalous rumors to discredit their employers.

But somehow, June and Jodie became "blown agents." In the tightly knit Scientology espionage network, that designation meant trouble.

Once a spy was unmasked, top sect officers began to worry. And federal court documents released Monday show that when these two spies came in from the cold, the heat was put on Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. [...]

Clearwater Sun (1979): "Cult tried to control newspaper"

The Church of Scientology plotted to purchase or otherwise "control" the Clearwater Sun by attempting to cut the paper's advertising revenue, discredit reporters and editors and rally readers against it, according to sect documents released Friday.

High-level Scientology "Guardians," carrying out plans to "take control" of the city of Clearwater in November 1975, planted spies in the Sun's news and advertising departments to gather information that might be incriminating to the paper's finances and employes.

The Scientologists also collected data on Clearwater residents whose letters to the Sun were critical of the sect. The names, addresses and phone numbers of about 50 readers were compiled in April 1976, and documents show' cult leaders believe the writers' backgrounds should be investigated.

Hundreds of pages of secret correspondence on the plot --- termed "China Shop" --- were released by a U.S. District Court Judge who presided at a trial of nine Scientology leaders found guilty last month of conspiring to steal federal documents. The three-inch-thick file on schemes against the Sun also contained reports about activities against former Clearwater mayor Gabriel Cazares and radio broadcaster Bob Snyder. [...]

Clearwater Sun (1979): "Scientologists plot city takeover"

The Church of Scientology of California had big plans for The unsuspecting community of Clearwater when it arrived there in November 1975.

In essence, the sect wanted to control the city's politicians, media And religious groups.

To that end, the Scientologists have evidently failed. Hardly any Clearwater resident is not skeptical of the sect's proclaimed goals and "reform" activities.

Nevertheless, the church has purchased $8 million in Clearwater buildings and land and continues to work for the potential to exert the political pressure it needs to gain acceptance.

Documents released here, as well as activities of Clearwater Scientology groups, indicate the sect has no intention of letting up in its quest to somehow "take control." [...]

Clearwater Sun (1979): "Judge rules papers available to public"

Documents revealing a Scientology espionage campaign against government agencies ranging from the IRS to the Clearwater City Commission were declared open to further public inspection Friday afternoon by a federal judge.

Scientology attorneys had argued strenuously that the papers should be sealed because they would cause "irreparable injury" to the church.

The public availability of the dozen cartons of government-seized documents - the basis of last week's conspiracy conviction of nine top chruch officials - was in doubt until U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey issued his ruling.

Scientologists sought to reclaim the papers, or at least block their release to the media on grounds they no longer were crucial to the government's case. [...]