Author Amy Scobee recounts abuse as Scientology executive
Monday, October 11, 2010
Wikinews interviewed author Amy Scobee about her book Scientology - Abuse at the Top, and asked her about her experiences working as an executive within the organization. Scobee joined the organization at age 14, and worked at Scientology's international management headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005. She served as a Scientology executive in multiple high-ranking positions, working out of the international headquarters of Scientology known as "Gold Base", located in Gilman Hot Springs near Hemet, California.
Scientology was founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1952. Scobee joined Scientology at age 14, and after leaving in 2005 she began to speak out critically about the organization and her views on alleged abuse carried out by management leader David Miscavige against staff members.
Scientology - Abuse at the Top was published in May, and Scobee has subsequently appeared in interviews about her experiences in the Scientology organization – for media including the St. Petersburg Times of Florida on June 23, and the BBC program Panorama hosted by investigative journalist John Sweeney, The Secrets of Scientology, which broadcast on BBC One on September 28.
Scobee's book is structured chronologically, and she recounts her experiences first joining the Scientology organization, then becoming a staff member in its elite group the Sea Org, and finally rising to serve in multiple different high-ranking roles at the organization's international management headquarters. Periodically throughout her experiences as an executive staff member for Scientology, Scobee was sent to the organization's penal justice system the "Rehabilitation Project Force" (RPF), for supposed "evil on L. Ron Hubbard" or negative thoughts about the organization. These sentences often occurred after a division of management Scobee had served under experienced downward statistics related to profit margins and financial performance for the organization. In each instance she was sent to the RPF, Scobee was subsequently reinstated to an executive management role, and given supervisory responsibility over other senior Scientology officials.
The author reveals difficult emotional experiences in her book, including an incident where she was raped at age 14 by a Scientology supervisor and subsequently instructed by a "Scientology Ethics Officer" that she was in a "state of treason" and to keep the matter quiet and not report it to the police. Scobee describes difficult experiences she endured as part of her punishment served in Scientology's RPF, including being sent to the RPF at age 16, and subsequently being slapped across the face for refusing to climb into a garbage can and clean it out.
Within Scientology management and the Sea Org, Scobee rose to serve in the Watchdog Committee (WDC) – the highest ecclesiastical body in the organization. After leaving the organization, Scobee was declared a "Suppressive Person", and Scientology's intelligence agency the Office of Special Affairs attempted to enforce organization regulations preventing her from ever speaking to her family including her mother again.
Prior to her book's publication, Scobee was threatened with legal action, in a letter from a lawyer Bertram Fields representing influential Scientology member and celebrity, actor Tom Cruise. Separately, Scientology representative Tommy Davis stated the organization was also preparing a lawsuit against her related to the publication of her book. Further news about such threatened lawsuits have not been forthcoming following these statements from Tom Cruise's lawyer and Scientology's spokesman.
After Scobee began to speak out critically about Scientology to the St. Petersburg Times, the Scientology propaganda publication Freedom Magazine issued a publication in which it referred to her repeatedly as "The Adulteress". Though Scobee had thought that statements she made during Scientology counseling sessions called "Auditing" were to be kept confidential under priest-penitent religious privilege, BBC News reported that "intimate details of her sex life" were forwarded by Scientology, to the St. Petersburg Times. BBC News reported that during an interview for the Panorama program, Scobee was photographed by agents for Scientology along with journalist John Sweeney. These photographs were then sent by Scientology UK lawyers from the firm Carter-Ruck to the BBC, in an attempt to show "bias" of journalist Sweeney towards Scobee in his interviewing.
Scientology - Abuse at the Top received a favorable reception from reviews and media coverage. All Headline News characterized it as a "tell-all book" about Scientology. Scobee's account has also received positive reception in coverage from Today Tonight, The Drew Marshall Show, Lateline, and Panorama.
((Wikinews)) How did you first get involved with Scientology?
Amy Scobee: I was 14 years old. My parents had recently divorced and my mother took custody of me and my older brother. The three of us moved 30 miles north to the Seattle area and my mother started working as a draftsman at a company near by. My brother and I would go to school during the day and spend the evenings with our mom. We’d visit my father on the weekends. I was beginning to get used to this routine when suddenly my mother was no longer spending the evenings with us. Instead, she began attending classes after work at the local Church of Scientology.
One day I was home alone and the phone rang. It was a staff member from the church named Brett. I told him that my mom wasn’t home. He said that he was actually calling to talk to me. He said that he heard I was a very nice person and that I should come into the church to do an introductory service myself. I remember becoming very curious about this. I recall thinking, "Even though I’m just a kid, these guys are interested in me!" That somehow made me feel recognized and important.
I told my mother about the invitation and asked if I could go in with her to meet Brett, to which she agreed. Brett was a very handsome man, posted as the Public Registrar, responsible for signing new people up for service and collecting their money. He interviewed me and said that he could tell I had a lot of potential and would go very far in life, but that I needed to learn several tools to be able to do so successfully. I really wanted to find out all about this. Brett called my mother into his office and had her pay for my first course so I could get started immediately. And so, I enrolled on my first course – the "Communications Course", on 17 May 1978.
((WN)) Do you still see positive benefits out of some aspects of Scientology methodology? How so? What courses, programs, do you consider beneficial?
AS: There are some things that I consider to be basic truths, such as that one is a spiritual being, but that's not unique to Scientology. I honestly no longer consider the methodology to be beneficial since I have seen the results of its application in broken families and broken individuals. I do have many friends who still very much believe in the technology, but consider the organization has turned criminal. To me, people should be free to believe in what they'd like. It's when the practices begin to hurt people is where I object.
((WN)) Why did you decide to join the elite Scientology group, the Sea Org?
AS: I thought that it sounded like an exciting adventure where I could help "salvage the planet" on a much larger scale than just in my home town. The "Sea Organization" (also Sea Org or SO for short) is defined on the official Church of Scientology web site as follows:
"The Sea Org was established in 1967 and once operated from a number of ships. It was set up to help L. Ron Hubbard with research of earlier civilizations and supervise Church organizations around the world. The first Sea Org members formulated a one-billion-year pledge to symbolize their commitment to the religion as immortal spiritual beings. It is signed by all members today. The Sea Organization is also entrusted to minister the advanced services of Scientology. The Sea Organization retains its name in celebration of the fact that Mr. Hubbard’s life was frequently connected to the sea. Although today the majority of Sea Organization members are based on land, in keeping with the tradition of the order’s inception, they still wear maritime-style uniforms and have ranks and ratings. Sea Org members work long hours and live communally with housing, meals, uniforms, medical and dental care provided by the Church. They participate in Scientology training and auditing during a portion of each day, but otherwise dedicate themselves to furthering the objectives of Scientology through their particular functions."
It was September, 1979. Word arrived that an expansion event was being held in the Seattle church for all local Scientologists by officers of the Sea Org. Attendance was mandatory. My mother and I went to the event together. As people arrived, we were all ushered in and seated in a large hall. Before the event began, surveys were passed out for the audience to fill in, asking detailed questions about our individual qualifications, such as whether or not we had ever taken LSD, ever been institutionalized, if we had a criminal record, had huge personal debts and so forth. My answer to every one of these questions was, "No". The surveys were collected up and the event began.
The speaker came out and briefed us on the strategy to make Scientology a household word internationally and how it was vital for everyone to immediately get on the bandwagon to help make this a reality. He had a large map of the world behind him and pointed out the small red dots as current church locations, which appeared minuscule compared to the size of the planet. Then, in the middle of the event, the speaker read out a list of people who were to report immediately to a room in the back for a private briefing. My name was on the list. I felt my heart pounding as I couldn’t figure out how they knew my name. I had forgotten all about filling out the survey prior to the event.
My mom’s name wasn’t on the list, so I had to go to the special briefing without her. I reported to the back, along with about twenty others from the audience. The main event speaker (named Don) came to the back room, along with three other people in full dress Sea Org uniform (navy caps, gold lanyards, white gloves, dirks tied around their waist – the works). He informed us that we were the select few who were qualified and that we were all to join the elite team of the Sea Org – right now!
Don said that while he moved on to the next city to get many more people on board, two SO members were staying behind in Seattle to get all of us packed and sent off to the Sea Org. He handed out Sea Org contracts, had us all stand up, raise our right hands and repeat the code of a Sea Org member after him. This is called the "swearing in ceremony". We all then signed the contract, pledging to work full time for the next billion years.
I had no clue what I was doing. I wondered why my mom’s name wasn’t called and what she would think. I didn’t dare question the Sea Org Officers. Everyone was following orders and I thought I had better as well. I did ask what type of work we’d be doing and the response was, "Our mission is to get ethics in on this planet and the universe. You’re joining the elite of the elite, responsible for handling the suppressive psychiatrists that exist in the here and now and those who implant beings between lives so as to make planetary clearing an actuality". I was speechless.
The intermission was over, everyone was reseated and those in the back re-joined the rest of the audience for the remainder of the event. The speaker came back up and announced the names of those who had just joined the Sea Org. Immediate standing ovation! Loud cheers! We were going to be heroes!
My mom flipped out, "No way—don’t they realize that you’re still a minor? They have no parental consent. You’re only in 9th grade and now you’ll never get a proper education. How could they do this without discussing it with me first? It’s out of the question!"
I went back to the recruiter and said I couldn’t go as it wasn’t coordinated with my mom.
Like lions jumping on prey, the SO officers were all over my mom to handle her "counter-intention towards Scientology expansion".
Finally, after being promised that I would absolutely continue my schooling to obtain a high school diploma, have three weeks off a year to come home to visit and be able to maintain routine communication with the family (all of which turned out to be a blatant lie), my mother signed a parental consent form, giving her approval for me to join the Sea Org – effective once I turned 16, which was only a few weeks away.
The recruiters had me list out things to handle before reporting for duty. My main concern was telling my dad, who knew nothing about Scientology. They said what I needed was a cover story, so tell him that I got a great offer and I’ll be going away to become a model in Paris. My mother and I went to visit my dad and that’s what we told him. He was so proud of me! I thought I was going to be sick.
Within a few weeks of signing my Sea Org contract, I was booked on a flight to Los Angeles. This was the first time I had been away from home and the first airplane I had ever been on. I arrived in Hollywood, California on 31 October 1979.
((WN)) Why did you choose to write a book about your experiences?
AS: I felt it was very important to not only thoroughly review what I had just gone through for my 27 years as a staff member for Scientology, but to make that experience known to others so they can learn what goes on behind the scenes. The beginning services in Scientology seem very sensible and helpful. It's like the bait and once you nibble on it, they get a hook into you and it's NOT easy to free yourself once you're hooked. Making the information known will hopefully enlighten people so they can see just how controlling and demanding and abusive the organization is – and stay clear of it themselves.
((WN)) Can you explain your choice of the book's title - what it means and refers to?
The title of my book is SCIENTOLOGY – ABUSE AT THE TOP. At the lower echelons of the organization, the parishioners are "schmoozed" and treated with all kinds of smiles and compassion. That's because they pay for service and promote the "religion" to others so as to expand their ranks. So the organization needs to keep them happy and therefore the "internal laundry" of what goes on behind the scenes is kept entirely hidden away. The TOP of Scientology is the Sea Organization. My book describes the physical, mental/emotional abuse that occurs day-in and day-out in the Scientology's Sea Organization – from their Rehabilitation Project Force (which is nothing short of a slave-labor camp, to which I was assigned four times for several years), to the physical assault & battery committed on the top executives by their current leader, David Miscavige (which I personally witnessed on at least a dozen occasions). Somehow the Scientology organizations are free from outside inspection because they are a "religion" and therefore allowed to practice their religious beliefs in any way they see fit. This is dangerous and the information about how far this has gone needs to be exposed, as it is extreme.
((WN)) You left Scientology in 2005, why did you decide to publish the book, five years later?
AS: When I left in March 2005 after being a full-time, live-in staff member for a quarter century, I had a total of $150 to my name. I had no outside job skills, never cooked and I barely knew how to drive. I had no clue what I would be doing to make a living in the "outside world". It was not unlike being dropped on another planet and having to figure out how to survive from scratch.
After I became stable and saved up some money, I began writing. As I wrote, I realized how important it was to get my story out. This "religion" promotes how their purpose is to create a sane world without criminality, etc. and the more I was OUT of their grip, the more I realized just how insane and criminal they really are. I learned about the Universal Declarations for Human Rights and saw how many points I personally knew were violated by the Scientology organization with their members. I learned about laws of the land (which I had been entirely ignorant of while a staff member) and realized some of the acts that I witnessed were actual violations of the LAW.
But what set me on the past to exposing the abuse within Scientology the most was when my mother was forced to disconnect from me, per Scientology's "disconnection" policy where members are to cut all ties with anyone not in good standing with their "church". This was a very emotionally traumatic situation. In my view, no religion worthy of the title should have a right to stand between loved ones.
((WN)) Quite early on in the book's first chapter, you recount an incident of being raped at age 14, by a 35-year-old married man who was your Scientology supervisor. You describe how your "Scientology Ethics Officer" found out, said you were in a "state of treason", and that the incident was kept quiet and not reported to the police by Scientology officials. How difficult was it to include this in the book? For what reason did you choose to include this? Why didn't you tell your parents about this?
|One of the worst crimes you can commit as a Scientologist is bringing about "bad public relations" for them.|
AS: To me, it was very important to include this information in my book because it gives the reader an idea of how Scientology operates. One of the worst crimes you can commit as a Scientologist is bringing about "bad public relations" for them. Things that happen internally are KEPT internal with the "we handle our own" doctrine. Unfortunately, this was a CRIME for which that person could have been arrested. Instead, it was "handled" by the local staff (swept under the carpet) and forgotten about. I didn't tell my parents because I was ashamed and afraid.
((WN)) After describing your arrival at the Scientology "Flag Land Base" in Florida at age 16, you recall how you met and became intimate with a 26-year-old man named David Paul, who later became your husband. For this act, you were subjected to a "security check" process on the Scientology device, the E-meter, and ordered to serve time performing manual labor on the controversial "Rehabilitation Project Force" (RPF) of Scientology. Is 16 a relatively young age to be sentenced to the Rehabilitation Project Force in Scientology? Did you know other individuals on this program that were younger than you, or around the same age?
AS: Yes, 16 is a young age to be sentenced to the Rehabilitation Project Force. I should have been attending school as per the agreement with my mother when she gave parental consent for me to join the Sea Organization – but I factually never saw one day of school after I joined. There were other teen-agers on the RPF at the same time, but I believe I was the youngest.
((WN)) During participation in the Rehabilitation Project Force, you recount how you were slapped across the face for refusing to climb into a garbage can after being ordered to do so by a leader of your group. How did this make you feel? Did you consider leaving the organization at all at this point in time? Why or why not, and why did you remain?
AS: It was a completely nutty order and I wasn't about to comply. I ran around the block to get away as the lady who issued the order chased after me. I went to the person in charge asking for help but he was not in his office. The lady chased me into that office and then hit me across the face. I did NOT hit her back because I wanted to show that she was the crazy one. However when the Ethics Officer got there, he said I should have complied as she was my superior. I felt like it was a huge injustice because the order made no sense and had no purpose. She was just trying to exert her "authority" over me. But, I didn't want to be in more trouble, so I did my punishment for non-compliance and carried on. No, I did not think of leaving then. At that point, I just thought that lady was insane, not the entire organization.
((WN)) After completing your time on the Rehabilitation Project Force, you were appointed to the position of "Commanding Officer of the Flag Land Base's Communicator", where you were "responsible for all in-coming and out-going traffic from the executive and obtaining compliance to all orders issued". Did it surprise you that directly after finishing the Rehabilitation Project Force, you were given such a position of responsibility as a Scientology executive? Does this occur often in Scientology to members after they finish their sentence in the Rehabilitation Project Force?
AS: In the Sea Organization, one is expected to be able to perform any duty – with or without training. It's preached that the salvation of the world is on our shoulders and everyone needs to pull up their bootstraps and make it go right. So, the appointment did not surprise me.
((WN)) Shortly after your promotion from Rehabilitation Project Force member to this position, you were promoted to "Flag Land Bureau Estates Management Chief", where you were "responsible for all public hotels and services", and subsequently promoted to the "Commodore's Messenger Organization (CMO)". At the end of chapter 3, you write how you were "placed under a group justice action, called a Committee of Evidence", and the committee, "recommended my removal for neglect of duty regarding the schedule". However, a few days later you were told you were assigned to Los Angeles, California, in order to recruit for members to join the CMO. Again, this appears to be a pattern of conflicting orders within the organization, where in one instance you were disciplined for perceived slights, and yet directly afterward, promoted to a higher position of authority as a Scientology executive. How do you explain this behavior within the organization?
AS: The control and handling of personnel within the Sea Org was very unpredictable. There were always huge demands and needs for people on various projects or positions that had to be filled "at once". So one could expect rapid changes. It was also considered that after one messes up, they can be corrected using the "ethics technology" of Scientology and confessionals so they can carry on after their level of ethics are once again acceptable.
((WN)) What was the highest-ranking position you held within Scientology? Who did you report to in this position? What responsibilities did you have, and how many other people and sub-entities did you oversee?
|I was in the Watchdog Committee (WDC) which is the highest ecclesiastical body in Scientology ... I was in WDC for about a decade and held about six different sectors over the years|
AS: I was in the Watchdog Committee (WDC) which is the highest ecclesiastical body in Scientology, with a WDC member appointed over each of the numerous "sectors" or areas of Scientology to see to their proper management. My boss as a WDC member is the WDC Chairman. This is the highest management position in the organization. I was in WDC for about a decade and held about six different sectors over the years, including the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) sector, which is responsible for the secular aspects of the organization – drug rehabilitation, criminal reform, Applied Scholastics study technology and The Way To Happiness Foundation – and the Celebrity Center sector. Anything that goes on inside your sector or sphere of responsibility as a WDC member, is your responsibility and you're held accountable. This could be very stressful, particularly when the current head of Scientology – David Miscavige – is so abusive. For example, Miscavige learned that the Tampa Scientology organization was not paying their rent in 2003. As I had previously been the WDC member for all Scientology churches (approx 175 of them around the world) and should have noticed and handled it then, Miscavige demanded that I personally pay the rent of $5,000 (which I did not have). This order was enforced by his personal staff – I had to borrow the money from several other staff members and turn it into the Finance Office, who then wrote a check to the Tampa organization to pay their back rent as a "gift" to them from management.
((WN)) In chapter 4 of Scientology - Abuse at the Top, you cite the book Combating Cult Mind Control by cult researcher Steven Hassan, who explains that, "Members are made to feel part of an elite corps of mankind." At what point in time did you read this book? Are there other books which helped you understand and put your experiences within Scientology into a greater context?
AS: I read several quotes from Steven Hassan from the internet that made total sense to me, so I ordered his book. It's a fantastic read. I learned quite a lot about mind control and particularly found it interesting and true that a key aspect of mind control is INFORMATION CONTROL. If one can control the information that you are allowed to receive, then you can really control their thinking. They wouldn't be equipped with all of the ACTUAL information to be able to analyze and made a sane decision about something. In Scientology and especially in the Sea Organization, information is controlled intensively. This includes ALL communication via telephone or mail – incoming and outgoing – being screened through security personnel in order to detect any antagonism regarding Scientology from the "outside", no televisions allowed, no internet access, not being permitted to listen to or read any article that said anything negative about Scientology.
"News" was obtained by the numerous Scientology events, covering the "unprecedented expansion and world-wide acceptance of Scientology". It was a lie, but it kept those not in-the-know thinking that we were doing well, so we need to keep working our guts out. It was astonishing to see when I left that Scientology had a BAD reputation of tearing apart families, of attacking critics, of scamming people out of their money, etc.
I saw how Tom Cruise (supposedly the BEST Scientology disseminator in the world) was losing it on Oprah Winfrey's couch and with Mat Lauer. He was actually a laughing stock in the "real world". But to Scientology, per David Miscavige, Tom Cruise is the most dedicated Scientologist he knows and was responsible for booming Scientology around the world. Well, the statistics I saw while in management for two decades didn't have a Tom Cruise "boom" of expansion. In fact, we were constantly trying to find what was causing a lack of expansion in the various sectors of Scientology.
So, information control is a very important aspect of mind control to understand and watch for.
Another book I found to be very beneficial after leaving Scientology was Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It answered a lot for me.
((WN)) You described in chapter 6, being assigned to a sub-division of the Rehabilitation Project Force, called the "RPF's RPF". How was this different from the main RPF itself? What typical tasks were you ordered to perform? Were there many other women assigned to this unit? Were women given different roles or treated differently than men while on the RPF or the RPF's RPF?
AS: The Rehabilitation Project Force (or RPF) is described by the church as a program offering a second chance to Sea Org members who have become unproductive or have strayed from the church's codes, involving intensive physical labor at church facilities and auditing and study sessions to address the individual's personal problems. I have a much harsher definition after spending a total of 5 ½ years on this program: A controlled slave labor camp to which is assigned anyone arbitrarily deemed a liability for actions (or thoughts) considered to be in opposition to the group.
If one gets in trouble while on the RPF program, they can be sent to the RPF’s RPF, which is a mandatory two week sentence and could take longer. One is segregated from the rest of the RPF and suffers twice the penalties of a regular RPF member, works longer hours, gets no pay and experiences other such restrictions. Men and women are not treated differently – as a Scientologist, they think they are not their body but spiritual beings, able to endure anything. You are expected to be able to perform any duty, no matter the excuse. I did all sorts of degrading jobs as a member of the RPF's RPF, including hand shoveling a literal mountain of fermented and maggot-infested garbage for days. Several of these stories are included in my book so one can get the details of what really goes on to "handle" staff members in Scientology.
((WN)) During chapter 7, "Scientology Celebrities", you recount how you were ordered to eat "rations of beans and rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner", until you had filled a vacant WDC post. You write that you worked for two months in this capacity, attempting to fill the position and submitting 46 different recommendations. How did such a diet and living conditions affect you during this time? How was your overall health, well-being, and energy levels as compared to that when consuming a healthy full-balanced diet?
AS: There is some writing from L. Ron Hubbard that rice and beans, eaten together, form a complete protein. So that was the justification of why it was okay to put people on such a meager diet as a form of punishment – they can't starve to death eating that. I learned to add things like mayonnaise to make it taste different and slide down easier. Looking back, I can't believe I went through with it – or 99% of everything else I endured, but you're in the frame of mind that any trouble can be overcome because one has to keep their eye on the overall big picture of helping to salvage the planet.
((WN)) While serving as executive over the Personnel Division at Commodore's Messenger Organization International, you write that you were given the task of "a special project in LA to establish the Tom Cruise household with staff who were all Scientologists". After interviewing individuals without telling them what they would be hired for, you note that – supervised directly by Shelly Miscavige, David Miscavige's wife and personal assistant – you narrowed down submissions which were then given to Tom Cruise's assistant, Andrea, to hire. Did these members of Scientology that were selected by Scientology management and then hired by Tom Cruise's assistant report back to the chain of command through David Miscavige, or to Tom Cruise, or both?
AS: I did video recorded interviews with several Scientologists – they didn't know what the interviews were for. I told them that I was doing a project, had some questions and at some point may possibly get back to them. I asked them questions about themselves, their skills, where they stood on Scientology training and counseling, etc. I then weeded out the ones that I didn't think would be appropriate for the personal staff of Tom Cruise and for those who seemed promising, I compiled their video with contact information and sent it to Shelly Miscavige. She would forward to Andrea (TC's Assistant at the time) any she thought were good. Andrea would then contact them for an interview directly. This continued until they had Scientologists selected for all of the key functions of the Cruise household (chef, nanny, Executive Housekeeper, etc.). Up to that point, several of those functions had been being done by Sea Org members (the specifics on this are covered in my book). Once they were hired by TC, they reported to him or his Assistant for their work assignments, not to the Scientology organization to my knowledge.
((WN)) After being appointed in October 1991 as the "Watchdog Committee member over the Celebrity Centre sector", you recall meeting several members of "the top Scientology celebrity public", including John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, Anne Archer, Nancy Cartwright, Billy Sheehan, Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Juliette Lewis, Isaac Hayes, Tom Cruise, Edgar Winter, and Jenna Elfman. In what capacity did you meet these Scientology celebrities? Were they coming in for Scientology auditing, or counseling? Did they receive advice and assistance in some form with their professional careers?
AS: While I was working on the project to build Celebrity Centre International in Hollywood, I was often in the President's office of the Celebrity Center where the top celebrities often would come. That's how I met most of them. They would come into Celebrity Center to attend a course, to go in for a counseling session or to bring someone new in to introduce them to Scientology. Celebrity Centre International has a "career counseling" service it does provide and some celebrities have done this service to hopefully help them to do better in their careers.
((WN)) You write that you are aware of situations where members of Scientology hired by celebrities as assistants or security staff, have actually reported back to the organization through a Scientology process called "Security Checks", with revealing information about those celebrities. Did any of these celebrities ever find out such a tactic was being used to uncover information about them? If so, what was their response to this?
AS: No, not to my knowledge.
((WN)) Shelly Miscavige told you that you were in the "highest ethics condition attainable" in Scientology while holding the executive position of "Watchdog Committee Celebrity Centre" (WDC CC), a condition called "power". How did it feel to attain this status within the Scientology executive leadership? Were you pleased, satisfied, or feel that the work you had done to date was worth it? Did you feel it was appropriate to serve time on the Rehabilitation Project Force, in order to later get to such a status?
AS: Shelly Miscavige commented that I took the position to a condition of power – which is the highest condition of existence per the Scientology scriptures. But it was just a statement from her. No certificate or anything was issued.
I was awarded PERMANENT POSTING STATUS on two executive positions in Church of Scientology International (CSI – the highest management organization for Scientology). This is a status that can only be verified and authorized by the Religious Technology Center (RTC – the holder of the Scientology trademarks and service marks). I received my Permanent Posting certificate by RTC as the Watchdog Committee member for Celebrity Centres (WDC CC), which I held as a single duty for four years, and as a function with other Scientology sectors for nearly a decade. Amongst the extensive list of requirements one must meet to become Permanently Posted, ones ethics and production record must be verified as excellent and you must be capable of generating on the order of a million dollars a year for the organization.
((WN)) In 1996, you were transferred to the executive post of Watchdog Committee member for the Association for Better Living and Education (WDC ABLE). ABLE is an organization operated by Scientology management which oversees groups that promote Scientology techniques. In this executive position, you were responsible for supervising Scientology-associated entities including: Applied Scholastics, Narconon, Criminon, and The Way to Happiness Foundation. Can you explain a little bit about the function and purpose of each of these groups? Are they actual-practice, separate "secular" functioning organizations, or somehow related to the Scientology organization itself? How specifically were these groups influenced and/or managed by Scientology leadership? How involved was David Miscavige in the functioning of these groups?
AS: Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE): ABLE is an umbrella organization which specializes in promoting the use of Scientology technology as a means to solve social problems (drugs, crime, illiteracy and immorality) through Narconon, Criminon, Applied Scholastics and The Way to Happiness.
Narconon: The Narconon program is a drug education and rehabilitation program, founded on Hubbard’s belief that drugs and poisons stored in the body impede spiritual growth. Its "purification program" uses a regimen composed of sauna, physical exercise, vitamins and diet management, combined with auditing and study.
Criminon: A program designed to rehabilitate criminal offenders by teaching them study and communication methods and helping them reform their lives.
Applied Scholastics: Applied Scholastics promotes the use of Hubbard’s educational methodology, known as study tech, originally developed to help Scientologists study course materials.
The Way to Happiness (TWTH) Foundation: The TWTH Foundation promotes a moral code booklet written by Hubbard, entitled The Way to Happiness.
These are secular organizations and they are definitely related to Scientology in that the entity that manages them are all members of Scientology's Sea Organization. When I was the Watchdog Committee member for the ABLE sector, one of my statistics was "Reserves" which was made up of the money collected from the tithes of each of these entities. David Miscavige appointed me to the WDC ABLE position and then issued a series of directions on what actions to be taken with the sector over the year that I held that job.
((WN)) After being told by David Miscavige that your husband at the time, Jim Mortland, was being removed or "offloaded" from Scientology's Sea Organization, you were called into the office of the Internal Executive where you were pressured into making a decision to stay in the Sea Org and separate from your husband. You write in the book, that your "brainwashed response" was to answer, "I'm staying". Why did you characterize this as a brainwashed response. How and why did you come to believe you had been a victim of brainwashing?
AS: Per this Wikipedia definition, "Mind control (also known as brainwashing, coercive persuasion, mind abuse, thought control, or thought reform) refers to a process in which a group or individual 'systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated'." In my right mind, I would not have walked away from my husband of 17 years. In my right mind, I would not have "turned a blind eye" when I witnessed a dozen accounts of assault & battery being committed on my comrades by David Miscavige. And I would never have given in to the physical labor and other "ethics" actions taken on myself and others for trumped up offenses. But I now understand that I was under the influence of mind control. This is not a light matter. People can laugh that concept off so readily, but it's a very REAL thing. When one considers what is at stake (or is thought to be at stake) if one were to step out of line or violate the rules in any way, you try to remain quiet and compliant. In Scientology, if you get yourself in enough trouble (from some executive's point of view), you can be banned from ever being allowed to receive the upper level services in Scientology – and thus enslave yourself as a spiritual being for eternity. Another more minor factor, but still major enough to keep you in line is the threat that any of your family or friends in Scientology would have to disconnect from you if you were no longer in good standing. So to say you want to leave, to go against the head of the organization, to report to outside authorities what's going on inside is considered more of a crime than being quiet and compliant as a "good Scientologist". This is what I consider has people brainwashed. It's a way to control their rational thinking. It's "the end justifies the means". When I realized that I had been rationalizing away utter insanities that I both witnessed and experienced in the organization and that I needed to simply look at what was factually in front of me, I started making my plans to leave. The details of this revelation and how I finally got out is all detailed in my book.
((WN)) In chapter 10, "Assault and Battery", you recount witnessing instances of violence by David Miscavige towards Scientology officials including: Ray Mithoff, Mike Rinder, and Jeff Hawkins. You write, "I am ashamed that I did not have enough courage at the time to inform the authorities or call the police, which would have been the logical thing to do." Why do you think you decided not to report these instances to the police? What do you think law enforcement would have done if you had reported the matter to police? Knowing what you know now, and revisiting your memories of these incidents in hindsight, would you have acted differently if you were in the same situation again?
AS: As I mentioned above, I learned at an early age that Scientology "handles its own" and that one of the biggest crimes you can commit is to bring about bad publicity for the organization as that is directly counter to the expansion plans of eradicating the reactive mind on the entire planet before it's "too late". At first, I justified the abuse – making excuses for why it could possibly be occurring. I thought, "Miscavige is the head of the religion and he's having to handle so much that all the stress and non-compliance is putting him over the edge". But when it kept occurring and kept occurring, I ran out of justifications. I could finally see that it was a pattern of an abusive sociopath. When I first started exposing the abuse after I left Scientology, several of the Scientology executives who I used to work with put together sworn affidavits claiming Miscavige never laid a hand on anyone. These were typed up and signed under the penalty of perjury. They know it's a blatant lie, but they think they're defending their religion by doing this.
Regarding whether or not I would have done things differently were I in the same situation today – ABSOLUTLEY. I would have called the police. I would have filed criminal reports. I would have alerted the authorities that the head of the organization is hurting people in many ways and I would have gotten the agreement from my peers that Miscavige needed to come off any position of authority and has no right to lead in this fashion. I know that I would have been removed for Treason and declared a suppressive person for making that stand, but I'd be proud of the title because the one thing I would have left intact is my personal integrity.
((WN)) The last chapter of your book describes your emotional reunion with your family after leaving Scientology - first meeting your father and then calling and meeting your mother - and finally reuniting with Mark "Mat" Pesch, now your husband. At any point in time did you feel unsafe during your journey to reunite with these people? Did Scientology's intelligence agency, the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), monitor you or your family after you left the organization?
AS: As I was getting on the airplane home, the OSA staff member who escorted me to the airport said that I could not talk to my mother due to the "suppressive person" declare issue that she handed me a few hours before. Of course, after I arrived to my father's house, I realized that I was no longer under Scientology's control and I could contact my mother if I wanted – and I desperately wanted to! I hadn't seen her in years and now I was home for good! Scientology did find out about us seeing each other and took various actions to put pressure on my step-father to enforce their disconnection policy. This was very messy and is one of the key reasons I chose to speak out publicly against Scientology's human rights violations. At one point, my husband and I were followed by Private Investigators anywhere we went. We had to file a police report because one in particular was being very reckless in his attempts to stay on our tail – and flee when we tried to confront him. I finally filed a declaration against Scientology, showing several instances of harassment to myself and my family, which I considered witness tampering since I was named as a witness on an on-going lawsuit against them.
((WN)) Were you concerned that your relationships might be affected due to Scientology declaring you a "Suppressive Person", and telling members of the organization never to speak to you again? Has this stopped you, or are you in communication with current and/or former members of the organization?
AS: Aside from the incident mentioned above with my mother (which is now handled as she, too has left the church along with her husband), the "Suppressive Person" label has not stopped me from communicating to anyone I feel the need to communicate with. Some associates "discovered" (were told by Scientology when they saw them as my friend on facebook or something) that I was declared suppressive and therefore told me they could no longer talk to me. If they want to continue to support a controlling organization and toe the line, they are welcome to. I know what it's like to be in a cult and understand their "reasoning", no matter how much I now see it to be illogical and irrational.
((WN)) One month before your book was published, All Headline News reported that you received a legal threat from Tom Cruise's lawyer, Bertram Fields, that warned you would face a defamation lawsuit from Cruise if the book was made publicly available. Specific complaints made included your accounts of hearing about a "drug history" involving Cruise, an ultimatum made by the Scientology organization to Cruise to decide between Nicole Kidman or the organization, and that Cruise's personal assistants and employees that staff his home are chosen and paid for by the Scientology organization. Can you speak to how you came to have knowledge about these assertions you made, why you believe them to be true and factually accurate, and how you felt when you received the legal threat letter from Cruise's attorney?
AS: Bertram Fields made a mistake by issuing that legal threat when he hadn't even read my book to know what I actually said about his client. He made assumptions based on hearsay. When I received the letter, I thought that it was just like Scientology – issue threats to intimidate and back someone off. I wasn't going to back off because what I wrote in my book was true. I am the one who did the project to hire Scientologists for Tom's household. I am the one Shelly Miscavige told what disqualifying drugs Tom took so he could not qualify for the Sea Organization – which he supposedly wanted to join. I didn't say anything in my book about Cruise having to decide between Nicole or the organization. So, I knew that it was an attempt to prevent me from putting out my book as "little 'ol me" could never possibly stand up to the high-powered lawyer of an A-list celebrity who has millions of dollars at his disposal. But the fact is – it didn't phase me as truth is truth and I'm willing to stand up for the truth.
((WN)) The book was subsequently published and made publicly available. At this point in time, has there been any follow-up from Tom Cruise, his lawyer, or representatives, to you? How do you feel about your legal standing if Cruise were to escalate the matter beyond the initial legal threat letter?
AS: None, whatsoever and I highly doubt they would follow through with any lawsuit because what I stated in my book is truth. It's what I did myself. It's what I witnessed myself. What I reported in my book can be backed up with evidence and several witnesses – easily.
((WN)) The month your book was published, the New York Daily News reported that Scientology organization public representative Tommy Davis characterized your accounts as "fiction". With regards to assertions you made that David Miscavige and Scientology officials "snooped" in the confessional folders of Scientology members and particularly celebrities, Davis stated, "Nobody in the church has ever violated the priest-penitent privilege. ... [Confessional files] are held in the strictest confidence." How do you respond to these statements by Davis?
AS: Just like I did to the New York Daily News when they asked me about it: If Scientology does not violate the priest-penitent privilege, what is the Scientology spokesperson doing talking to the press about my sex life?
((WN)) Davis further stated to the New York Daily News that (separate from the earlier intimations from the lawyer for Tom Cruise) the Scientology organization was itself "preparing a lawsuit" against you because of the "disgusting allegations" in the book. Have you received any notice from the Scientology organization with regards such a potential lawsuit?
AS: No and I don't expect to. Everything I've stated in my book are things that I personally observed (and where that wasn't the case, I make it clear). I was careful not to exaggerate, but to be as factual as possible about my experiences. There is so much more I could have said about severe abuse others witnessed and told me about, but I kept it to my story. As there are numerous witnesses now out of Scientology who also saw what I saw while working at the International Headquarters for Scientology, I do not think Miscavige and his attorneys would be very successful trying to prove my "defamation" and their innocence in front of a jury.
((WN)) Davis proceeded to make claims to the New York Daily News about your sexual relationships. Additionally, BBC News reported that after you began to make public criticism of the organization and its leader David Miscavige, Scientology provided "intimate details of her sex life" to the Florida newspaper the St. Petersburg Times. How did you feel when these sexual details were made public by Scientology? How do you feel this behavior by the organization and its officials reflects on its assertions of keeping confidential information secret, and respecting the privacy of priest-penitent privilege?
AS: To me – and MANY other people – it was obvious through their child-like reaction that they have something fairly big to hide. I gave a detailed eye-witness account of the head of the Scientology religion repeatedly beating staff members. That they respond with exaggerated accusations about my sex life is just a red herring. And it also proves that private information you may divulge in confessionals while a member of Scientology could be used against you should you step out of line in the future.
((WN)) In an August 2009 issue of the Scientology publication, Freedom Magazine, the issue referred to you multiple times only as "The Adulteress". How did this make you feel when you found out about this publication? When you were still a member of the Scientology organization, what was your opinion at that point in time of Freedom Magazine? What is your opinion of the publication - its reputability and reliability, at this point in time?
AS: The "Freedom" magazine is the public mouthpiece for Scientology, often used as a medium to expose what they consider to be the ills of society (psychiatry, pharmaceutical companies and major critics of their religion). I was not surprised that they put out a magazine against those who exposed the illegal actions of the Scientology leader, David Miscavige, with his repeated abuse and assault and battery being committed on his junior Scientology executives. They felt that an attack on Miscavige was an attack on the whole religion and therefore those people involved needed to be exposed as rotten to the core.
In the August 2009 publication of "Freedom", they slandered both the St. Petersburg Times reporters and the "defectors" (myself, Marty Rathbun, Mike Rinder and Tom DeVocht). Note: they did not use the name "Amy Scobee" in this magazine. Instead, they refer to me as "the Adulteress". This slanderous character assassination appears in more than 20 places in their publication. It's painfully obvious that they were referring to me since I was the only female that spoke out in the article they were protesting. I'm not "an adulteress". As a member of Scientology's Sea Organization (age 16 to 42), I had sexual intercourse with my first husband, my second husband and my current husband. Regardless, my "sexual purity" has nothing to do with my reporting the fact that I witnessed the head of the Church of Scientology commit repeated assault & battery on specific church executives while I was employed there. It's just their attempt to "annihilate credibility" for exposing this crime. In my view, the Freedom magazine is used to help carry out Miscavige's private agenda to try to remain in a position of power in that organization.
((WN)) BBC News reported on September 26, that during an interview for the Panorama special, The Secrets of Scientology, yourself and reporter John Sweeney were photographed, and such photographs of the two of you hugging after completing the interview were sent by Scientology UK lawyers from the firm Carter-Ruck to the BBC. What do you think Scientology was attempting to accomplish by sending these photos to the BBC? Is such behavior by the Scientology organization with regard to monitoring of journalists, critics, or former members such as yourself common? What do you do to cope and/or respond to such behavior from the Scientology organization?
|To me, it's more important to prevent anyone else from being hurt by making Scientology's human rights violations known|
AS: Yes, this type of intimidation is common practice by Scientology. As a witness in an on-going court case against Scientology, I was recently in a deposition with Scientology's lead counsel. He pulled out the photo that their private investigators took of John Sweeney giving me a hug on the highway outside of the Scientology compound in Hemet after nearly two full days of interviews. He proceeded to ask me how much "alone time" I spent with Mr. Sweeney (which was none) and when I explained that we all gave each other hugs goodbye before we went our separate ways and that my husband was right there with me, the lawyer said, "We'll see what the jury says about that!" All they are trying to do is intimidate us into silence through constant trails by PI's, slandering our names with ridiculous accusations, etc., so we'd become cowed, be quiet and let their criminality go on, unchecked. Well, it hasn't worked to keep me silent. To me, it's more important to prevent anyone else from being hurt by making Scientology's human rights violations known than to worry about them tarnishing my personal reputation in retaliation. I believe that the truth must be brought to light, despite consequences.
((WN)) Are there any other points that you would like to elaborate or explain?
AS: I think it's very important for people to be educated on the subject of cults – including Scientology – so they know what to look out for and avoid. My book: Scientology - Abuse at the Top, gives people a good look at what goes on behind the scenes and how one could get gradually more and more involved until it's their entire life – to the exclusion of almost anything or any one else. I hope it makes it into many people's hands and they find it useful.
((WN)) Amy Scobee, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview with Wikinews.
AS: Thank you.
- "Author of My Billion Year Contract reflects on life in elite Scientology group" — Wikinews, January 14, 2010
- "Blown for Good author discusses life inside international headquarters of Scientology" — Wikinews, November 13, 2009
- "The Secrets of Scientology are frightening and numerous" — Metro.co.uk, September 28, 2010
- John Sweeney. "Mr. Shouty and Cruise: The Rematch" — The Sunday Times, September 26, 2010
- George Rush, Joanna Molloy. "Scientology leader David Miscavige accused of snooping in secret celeb confessional files" — New York Daily News, May 2, 2010
- Anne Lu. "Tom Cruise’s Lawyer Warns Former Scientology Staff Member Of Defamation Over Tell-All Book" — All Headline News, April 12, 2010
- October 11, 2010
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