Saturday, August 30, 2014

About Bob Minton and the LMT


Bob MintonA lot of people ask me about Bob and the LMT. I had the great pleasure to work with Bob and move to Clearwater, Florida in 2000 – 2001 to be part of the Lisa McPherson Trust. Bob created the LMT to help people abused or defrauded by Scientology. When he asked me to be a part of it, I said yes with no questions asked.

The time I spent in Clearwater was fascinating and productive. I was the media producer for the trust and was kept busy around the clock. The LMT was constantly in court, being harassed by Scientology. Too much of my time was spent responding to legal requests. The rest was spent building a website and producing original videos of pickets, events and interviews.

Bob had set aside enough money to run the LMT for four years. Or so he thought. The legal bills ate up that money in one year. All told, Bob spent $10 million of his own money fighting Scientology and helping its victims. He was a hero to me and to many others.

Some people took issue with some of Bob’s tactics but I always appreciated the devilish twinkle in his eye as he stood up to those who thought they could bully or corner him.

I get asked a lot about Bob. Specifically, people try to make sense of the way Scientology shut down the LMT and got Bob to testify “on their behalf” in the Lisa McPherson civil case. I believe this article from the St. Pete Times does a very good job of explaining the situation.

“It was like the Terminator was after you,” [Bob] said.

And at that first negotiating session March 28, the church made it clear that it held him accountable for millions of dollars of litigation he had supported.

“It never escaped me for a moment there was only one deep pocket for them to come after,” Minton said.

Now, after six years on the Scientology battlefront, Minton wants out.

“You know, this has been really hard,” Minton said in court recently. “It’s been — I just can’t do it anymore. I don’t want to do it.”

Bob MintonI believe the article is very accurate except for the wild-eyed hysteria from Jesse and Dandar. I was there when Bob handed the lawsuit to Jesse. I read it myself. It wasn’t the threatened RICO suit (which was a real $30 million dollar threat from Scientology.) It was a $10 million dollar lawsuit against Bob for providing Gerry Armstrong a computer and others means to continue to speak out against Scientology, breaking an injunction which Scientology had against Gerry. The RICO suit was never drafted but was laid out as a very real possibility.

The Armstrong suit was handed to Bob as he sat down with Scientology to settle all their previous lawsuits, with the exception of the Lisa suit. That was Bob and Stacy’s initial plan. They had successfully negotiated with Scientology, Mike Rinder, Yingling and all the other assorted characters when they were on the board of FACTnet in the 1990′s.

FACTnet had been sued for distributing some of Scientology’s copyrighted material.  Bob and Stacy negotiated a deal in which FACTnet agreed not to do so anymore. They kept FACTnet alive with the proviso that should FACTnet ever again break Scientology’s copyrights, they’d have to pay the group $1 million. It hasn’t happened and FACTnet remains an important destination on the web.

When Bob and Stacy approached Scientology to settle in early 2002, the goal was to settle all suits but the Lisa case. Scientology instead slapped Bob with the Armstrong suit and the RICO threat.

At this same time, Bob was under increased pressure to answer the court’s questions on funding and control of the Lisa McPherson civil case. There was a list of 80 questions Bob had to answer — or go to jail. He dodged a bullet in one courtroom when a technicality got him off the hook but he had another court date looming. For that appearance, his new attorney for the case, Bruce Howie, advised Bob to tell the truth.

Bob had made some mistakes in the civil suit and so had the Lisa estate’s attorney, Ken Dandar. Chief among them was Bob giving Dandar an additional $750,000 dollars from a Swiss bank account which had not been reported to the probate court.

There was also a concern over comments made on a radio show and comments some of Lisa’s relatives made in depositions about a portion of the proceeds of the case being given to a group such as the LMT. Dandar panicked and had everyone write affidavits that such a deal had never been made.

The sad part is that a jury hearing the money would go to help victims of Scientology probably would have doubled the amount of the reward.

Nonetheless, mistakes were made. Everyone makes them. And Scientology is ruthless in exploiting them.

To settle with Scientology, Bob agreed with his attorney’s advice to produce the Swiss checks and testify to their existance. This sent the civil case spiraling more out of control than it had been in the years of relentless assaults. And it shocked everyone who watched from the sidelines. Tales of blackmail and uncovered secrets ran amuck.

The truth is Scientology didn’t blackmail Bob. They had Bob by the balls doing what they always do — using the courts not just to win but to destroy their enemy. He no longer had the strength to fight or the willingness to fall on his sword for friends who he felt had betrayed him, chief among them the woman who produced the movie “The Profit” before becoming Dandar’s trial consultant.

Blackmail didn’t turn Bob to Scientology’s side. The relentless on-going global assault of Scientology wore Bob down, along with attacks from former friends who felt Bob wasn’t doing enough in funding the Lisa case.

To them, the case was worth more than Bob’s life. But I saw him being driven to the brink of suicide by both Scientology and his former friends.  I was just happy he made it through the ordeal.

Scientology settled the civil case with Lisa’s family and I hope they eventually get the settlement Scientology promised — but have yet to pay.

Bob and Stacy sought some peace away from the world of Scientology and found it together for several years.  Sadly, in January of 2010, Bob passed away from a heart ailment that was discovered just that morning in a trip to the doctor’s.  They thought he would have time to reverse the damage but late that night he died with Stacy at his side.

It’s hard to believe he is really gone.  He was my hero as he was for many others around the world.  But the work he started continues on the net.  New people find the videos we made together every day and his message resonates for a new generation.

After the settlement, Bob couldn’t resist continuing to follow what was going on in the world of Scientology.  He watched in amazement the rise of Anonymous.  He also lived to see people who were in charge of attacking him when they were in Scientology, leave the group and protest it themselves, carrying on Bob’s call for reformation of the organization.

He was a good and decent man and I’m glad we were friends.  He is missed by many.