In January of 2001, Maria Pia Gardini contacted the LMT to ask them to help her recover 1.5 million dollars from Scientology. The story she told of fraud and abuse was so terrible that they asked her to come to Clearwater to tell her story on video.
During her visit she wrote three separate declarations and Stacy Brooks interviewed her on video for many hours. Maria is a delightful woman who speaks very good English with a charming Italian accent. She is appalled when she looks back at what happened to her in Scientology. Maria comes from a wealthy Italian family. She was coerced into giving nearly her entire inheritance to Scientology and now is in serious financial difficulties.
Maria’s daughter got into Scientology via the Narconon program in Italy. Maria was very close to her daughter and extremely concerned about her daughter’s drug use. Her daughter told her Scientology had helped her. At the same time, Maria was very sad about the death of her father, and her daughter begged her to get some auditing to help relieve her grief, so Maria did it. As luck would have it, Maria had a very sympathetic auditor to talk to about her father’s death. This auditor helped Maria tremendously during a difficult time in her life. That was the beginning for Maria Pia.
In her declarations you will read the details of what happened to Maria in Scientology. Because that very first auditing made her feel better, she continued to hope that as she moved up the “Bridge to Total Freedom” she would feel better again, but it never happened. At each new auditing step Maria was disappointed, but always a Scientology registrar, or reg (pronounced “redge” — these are the people responsible for extracting as much money as possible from Scientologists) were able to get her to keep paying for more services, promising that the next level was the one she was looking for.
Perhaps one of the most ironic aspects of Maria’s story is that she lost all of her money not as a public Scientologist but as a Sea Org member. Very soon after she got into Scientology, Maria joined the Sea Organization and ultimately became a Class 9 auditor, which is a very high level of training. In fact, she was one of Flag’s most productive auditors, delivering thousands of hours to Flag’s paying public Scientologists and making millions of dollars for Scientology. Sea Org members are, according to Scientology’s own policies, supposed to receive not only their room and board but also their auditing and training for free in return for their work. Yet because Maria had money, she was required to pay for everything she ever received in Scientology. She was literally told that she was unethical to want to hold onto any of her money and that she should simply turn over her entire fortune to Scientology.
In Maria’s declaration #1 you will learn about the incredible bait and switch fraud that is perpetrated by Scientology on the so-called “confidential OT levels.” At every level beginning with OT3 Maria was promised that she would be rid of all her body thetans once she was done with that step. But at every step she discovered that it had been a lie. After OT3 she was told she had drugged BTs to take care of on OT4. Then she was told she had sleeping BTs to handle on OT5. Then on OT6 she learned that there were BTs everywhere, that her whole body was a mass of clusters of BTs. Then she did OT7 and thought she was now rid of all BTs….until she got to the Freewinds to do her OT8 and discovered that she was expected to audit out still more BTs.
You will read about Maria’s incredible journey up the so-called Bridge to Total Freedom, and you will also learn that the night she attested to OT8 she went into a gambling casino in Nassau, where the Freewinds was in port, and found David Miscavige, Guillaume Lesevre and Ray Mithoff all gambling, despite the fact that Scientologists are forbidden to do this.
In declaration #2 Maria details a monumental “reg cycle” in which she was coerced into turning over a million dollars for a project to bring Italian auditors to Flag to train to Class 8, only to find that not one Italian Class 8 was ever made with the money she had donated. Yet the Commanding Officer of the Flag Service Organization, Debbie Cook, bought a new $40,000 car with the commission she made from Maria’s coerced donation, and many others also got commissions from Maria’s money. When Maria demanded her money back she was again coerced, this time into agreeing to get only half her money back. Maria was in serious financial trouble and Scientology knew it. They waved a check in front of her and told her if she would agree to be repaid only half the money they would give her the check right away, otherwise, she would get nothing.
Maria signed an agreement under these coercive circumstances, but she was never given a copy of the document, and her Italian attorney later told her the agreement, written in English but signed in Italy, was not legally binding. Shortly after Maria visited the Lisa McPherson Trust, Stacy Brooks received a letter from Kendrick Moxon threatening to sue the LMT for inducing Maria Gardini to breach her contract. John Merrett then wrote to Moxon demanding a copy of the contract that was allegedly being breached, and informing Moxon that unless a copy of the agreement was forthcoming within one week the LMT would consider that no such agreement existed. That was at the beginning of February, 2001. No such agreement was ever produced by Moxon.
Maria’s declaration #3 is very short. It details one example of the kind of coercive treatment Maria was subjected to by Flag personnel to get her to turn over her money.
Tragically, Maria’s daughter died of AIDS, contracted when she used a dirty needle given to her by another drug user while being treated at Narconon. Her daughter was OT7 when she died.
Daughters of St. Paul in Italy are taking a courageous stand against the Church of Scientology.
Their publishing house recently issued the second of two books by Italian Catholic Maria Pia Gardini, who is a former Scientologist.
The publishing house has just published a second book by her exposing abuses within the Church of Scientology.
The Church of Scientology in Italy has announced it has instigated legal proceedings for libel against Gardini and those who have assisted her.
In bringing this lawsuit the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige risk the enmity of millions of Catholics around the world, particularly since the organization forces all women, both married and unmarried, working for their elite Sea Org management organization to abort their unborn children.
In 2007 The Daughters of St. Paul’s publishing house Edizioni Paoline (Paoline Publications) published I miei anni in Scientology (My Years in Scientology) and in the first week of December 2009 released Il coraggio di parlare – storie di fuoriusciti da Scientology (The Courage To Speak Out – Stories of Ex-Scientologists),
The books have been widely reviewed in Italy. Numerous Italian-language reviews with the links to pdf files may be found at the links to the two books cited above.
Both books are co-authored by Italian Catholic journalist Alberto Laggia and Italian Catholic Maria Pia Gardini. Gardini is a former adherent of Scientology and member of its Sea Org elite, who run everything in Scientology and its front groups under the leadership of David Miscavige. She returned to full practice of Catholicism after leaving.
My Years In Scientology recounts Gardini’s own experiences. The Courage To Speak Out contains the stories of fourteen ex-Scientologists including three from the US.
Both books are replete with accounts of horrendous abuses, including Maria Pia Gardini’s having been defrauded of over a million dollars.
In September the National Church of Scientology in Italy sent a formal warning (Atto di diffida, approximately equivalent to a Cease and Desist letter) to Paoline saying that it had engaged in libelous attacks. The warning was signed by a lawyer for Scientology and the head of Scientology in Italy and was also sent to Maria Pia Gardini.
Laggia has written frequently on cults and Scientology for La Famiglia Cristiana (The Christian Family), a weekly magazine produced by the Daughters of St. Paul. It is widely read by Italian Catholics. More than one million copies are distributed every Sunday to parishes and churches throughout Italy.
Scientology says they have instructed their attorneys to sue Maria Pia Gardini for libel. Read all about it at Why We Protest.