The Truth Rundown
The St. Petersberg Times has run one of the most important series of articles on Scientology in years. David Miscavige was put squarely in the target of former top executives Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder who have spilled the beans on the inner circles bizarre behavior.
This account comes from executives who for decades were key figures in Scientology’s powerful inner circle. Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the highest-ranking executives to leave the church, are speaking out for the first time.
Two other former executives who defected also agreed to interviews with the St. Petersburg Times: De Vocht, who for years oversaw the church’s spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, and Amy Scobee, who helped create Scientology’s celebrity network, which caters to the likes of John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
One by one, the four defectors walked away from the only life they knew. That Rathbun and Rinder are speaking out is a stunning reversal because they were among Miscavige’s closest associates, Haldeman and Ehrlichman to his Nixon.
Now they provide an unprecedented look inside the upper reaches of the tightly controlled organization.
The last time the St. Pete Times ran such a detailed look at Scientology, they took home a Pulitzer Prize. I would not be surprised if they garnered another.
Part One and Part Three of the series detail the abuses top executives faced at the hands of David “Slappy” Miscavige. Marc Headley has been writing about the punches and brutality for years now and here it is all confirmed. Frankly, I have never been that outraged that David Miscavige has been brutally beating his staff. Compared to the destroyed lives and emptied bank accounts of so many people who had been part of Scientology across the globe, I thought some slaps to underlings (who, after all, are doing some pretty bad things on behalf of Miscavige) were small potatos. I was wrong. It is a sickness and a dark manefestation of Miscavige’s twisted soul.
• Physical violence permeated Scientology’s international management team. Miscavige set the tone, routinely attacking his lieutenants. Rinder says the leader attacked him some 50 times.
Rathbun, Rinder and De Vocht admit that they, too, attacked their colleagues, to demonstrate loyalty to Miscavige and prove their mettle.
• Staffers are disciplined and controlled by a multilayered system of “ecclesiastical justice.” It includes publicly confessing sins and crimes to a group of peers, being ordered to jump into a pool fully clothed, facing embarrassing “security checks” or, worse, being isolated as a “suppressive person.”
At the pinnacle of the hierarchy, Miscavige commands such power that managers follow his orders, however bizarre, with lemming-like obedience.
• With Miscavige calling the shots and Rathbun among those at his side, the church muscled the IRS into granting Scientology tax-exempt status. Offering fresh perspective on one of the church’s crowning moments, Rathbun details an extraordinary campaign of public pressure backed by thousands of lawsuits.
• To prop up revenues, Miscavige has turned to long-time parishioners, urging them to buy material that the church markets as must-have, improved sacred scripture.
Church officials deny the accusations. Miscavige never hit a single church staffer, not once, they said.
What kind of man needs to lash out at those who are cowering under his power? What disturbed mind behaves this way? Is this what Scientology’s tech leads one to do? Or can it simply not cure the Miscavige’s psychological illness? Either way, he has been behaving like the worst cardboard cutout of a movie villian, and it says volumes about Scientology that not only can he behave this way but that no one has been able to stop him . At last, he has been exposed.
They called it the Hole.
For months, the small building at the California base was like a prison for more than 30 of the highest-ranking officers in the Sea Org.
They could leave only once a day, for a shower, otherwise they stayed put. Food was brought in. They slept on the floor, men around the conference table, women in the cubicles and small offices ringing the room.
Miscavige called meetings at odd hours, 2 a.m., 4 a.m. Day after day, the exhausted executives puzzled through management structure and the pricing system for church services, trying to guess what their leader wanted.
He rejected their ideas, cursed them, branded them “suppressive persons” who put their church at risk. He demanded they go back at it; they could not leave until they got it right.
Sometimes Miscavige would let someone out of the Hole or throw in somebody else. Rinder says he was there from the start. In January 2004, Miscavige added De Vocht to the mix.
“Everyone gathered around the table. He’s throwing things, yelling at people, beating people up,” De Vocht remembered. “It was a weirdo scene, let me tell you.”
Later that month, Miscavige threw a bigger name into the Hole: Marty Rathbun.
The leader told the others not to listen to a word Rathbun said, he was not to be trusted: I know you all have come to respect this guy over the years, but he is the guy that’s f—– me up.
A few days earlier, Rathbun says, Miscavige had pushed his head against a wall and slapped him hard across his left ear for not being tougher on the staff. He figures that must be what landed him in the Hole.
Part Two deals with the Lisa McPherson case. Rathbun admits having key evidence destroyed before an investigation can be done. The statute of limitations has passed and the State Attorney has said they have no interest in ever going back to the case.
In early 1997 as investigators closed in, Rathbun met with church staff at Scientology offices in Hollywood, Calif. They combed the daily logs that McPherson’s caretakers kept during her 17 days at the Fort Harrison.
Three entries particularly troubled Rathbun.
One contained a bizarre sexual reference McPherson had made. Another revealed that no one thought to remove the mirror from the room of a psychotic woman bent on harming herself. The third was one caretaker’s opinion that the situation was out of control and that McPherson needed to see a doctor.
Rathbun concluded the notes had to go.
“I said, ‘Lose ’em’ and walked out of the room,” he recalled, adding that the decision to destroy the records was his own.
“Nobody told me to do it and I did it,” he said. “The truth is the truth and right now I’m going to confession, and I really think it’s something that hurt the church more than it hurt the people that were trying to get recompense.
“But it is what it is, and I know it could potentially be a crime.”
In a recent interview, State Attorney Bernie McCabe said it was clear the records were missing because the church handed over entries for every day of McPherson’s stay except the final two before she died. That the church appeared to be hiding something only fed McCabe’s sense that something was amiss.
Prosecuting Rathbun is not an option, because the time to bring destruction of evidence charges expires after three years, McCabe said. “We’re done.’’
There is so much more material at the St. Petersburg Time’s website. One of the changes since their first Pulitzer Prize winning series on Scientology is that the newspaper can now deliver video and audio and share it with the world on the web. Here are some of the videos they have produced.
I sure would like to talk to Rinder and Rathbun some day. I’d love to hear their take on Bob Minton and the LMT years.
Marty Rathbun’s Interview:
Amy Scobee’s Interview:
Columnists for the paper discuss Scientology along with other topics.