In the pre-release copy posted on Amazon.com, Wright had listed “John Axel” (John Aczel) as someone who reported witnessing abuse. Mr. Aczel complained that the allegation was untrue and his name was removed from the second printing of the book. It remains out in the paperback.
>> True Information: Not one of the claimed incidents occurred. Not one individual has come forward with a single piece of evidence supporting the claims—not one photograph, cell phone image, text message, email, medical report, or police report. Nothing.
Wright’s list of alleged victims and witnesses includes John Aczel, a current Sea Organization member who was most surprised to see his name on the list. Mr. Aczel has signed an affidavit in which he completely repudiates Wright’s claim. Mr. Aczel wrote:
I have never met, spoken with or corresponded with Mr. Wright in any manner. Nor have I provided him with any information whatsoever, either for his book or otherwise.
At page 345, Mr. Wright lists me as someone who “told me or testified in court that they have witnessed one or more assaults on other Church staff members by their leader.” The allegation is false. I have never told Mr. Wright this, nor have I testified to this in any court because it is not true. I have never on any occasion witnessed Mr. Miscavige physically attack anyone.
Others on Wright’s list are embittered apostates who have been spewing lies about the Church and its leadership for the last several years. They united to corroborate each other’s stories because they know no independent evidence exists.
These allegations exemplify the unsupportable and malicious nature of these apostates’ vile allegations directed toward the ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion. These allegations are false and repugnant. Not only is there no evidence to support these scurrilous claims but there is clear evidence to the contrary.
There are sworn statements repudiating the claims of abuse from those persons who were allegedly on the receiving end of Mr. Miscavige’s violence. Not only have these Church members categorically refuted each and every allegation by Rathbun, Rinder, Hawkins and the others and expressed their disbelief and outrage that such allegations could have been made in the first place, but, significantly, their number includes Catherine Bernardini, who was married to Mike Rinder for 35 years before he walked out on his family, Anne Joasem, who was married to Marty Rathbun for 15 years, and Catherine Fraser, who was married to Jefferson Hawkins, and Ms. Jennifer Linson, who was married for 20 years to Tom DeVocht (a confederate of Rathbun and Rinder who is listed in Wright’s footnote), a man who sold two cars without her knowledge and spent her inheritance behind her back.
Ms. Cathy Bernardini says that the only violence she ever witnessed was, ironically, attacks carried out by Marty Rathbun on her former husband, Mike Rinder, and also acts of violence committed by her former husband himself. Tragically, shortly after Rinder abandoned his family, his son was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent rigorous treatment to cure his disearse, including multiple disfiguring surgeries, followed by additional cosmetic surgeries. His life was saved, thanks to his mother, his Church and his doctors. Mike Rinder couldn’t care less about his son or his family and his bitter attacks on the man who removed him and the Church that helped his son are but examples of this. His wife twice traveled to see him in the hopes he would come to his senses. The first time Rinder did not want to see her (he will tell you otherwise but that doesn’t change the facts). The second time, she traveled with his daughter and brother (who flew in from Australia) and Rinder’s “welcome” was a physical attack that left his brother injured and his wife, the mother of his children, in the care of paramedics. She sustained nerve damage to her arm, that was still healing almost two years later, with a dislocated shoulder that required surgery to repair.
Ms. Anne Joasem characterizes her former husband as an “unstable and violent” man and says that he threatened her with physical violence. The Church does not tolerate, and has never tolerated, such unacceptable behavior, and indeed this is one of the reasons for the removal of Rathbun and Rinder, which in turn is the root cause of their disenchantment with the Church, and Mr. Miscavige in particular.
One example includes when Rathbun alleged to CNN in 2010 that there was a “beating every day” in late 2003 by, or incited by, Mr. Miscavige. Revealingly, CNN had to acknowledge in their broadcast of the allegation that it could not be independently corroborated or verified by any unbiased objective source or evidence. Rathbun was at the Church’s International base in Hemet, California, during this time. Unfortunately for Rathbun, the Church proved what Mr. Miscavige was actually doing and what his travel schedule consisted of in late 2003 with comprehensive and exhaustive documentary evidence, including contemporaneous photographs, videos and other corroborative material. A documentary video proves Rathbun’s claim to be a complete and utter lie. See freedommag.org/beatingeveryday. All of this information was accessible to Lawrence Wright as well as his fact checkers. Yet, it was ignored.
Catherine Fraser who was married to Jeff Hawkins until 2004, categorically states that she was very close to her former husband and never heard about nor did she ever see any evidence of any physical abuse. In response to Mr. Hawkins allegations about being physically abused, Ms. Fraser stated bluntly: “This is astonishing. He is a liar to the core.”
Witnesses present at the meeting at which Hawkins claims the violence occurred attest that Hawkins’ version is patently false. Mr. David Bloomberg (Mr. Hawkins’ superior at the time) and Yael Lustgarten (Mr. Hawkins’ co-worker of many years) were present and both flatly and categorically deny that any such incident took place.
Of note is that Yael Lustgarten is no longer a member of the Sea Organization, nor is she employed by the Church of Scientology. After hearing about this allegation, she came forward and provided a sworn statement that Mr. Hawkins was lying. At paragraph 10 of her 27 July 2009 affidavit, she states:
“I have attended over 1000 meetings involving Church marketing. I witnessed one meeting where Jeff Hawkins, a fellow marketing staff member at that time, was presenting a campaign for “Scientology”. However, the way he presented the campaign was not the way someone would present a multi million-dollar campaign to executives. He smelled of body odor, he was unshaven, his voice tone was very low and he could hardly be heard. Someone asking for millions of dollars to launch a long-term campaign would never behave like that. Jeff did. Of course his campaign was never approved and it was totally not acceptable. And now, he claims he was ‘hit’ by Mr. Miscavige. I was right there. He wasn’t hit by anyone. He was told to wake up, and speak louder and frankly to correct his attitude. He claims he was beaten up and held down. It’s all a lie. I was there.”
Ms. Lustgarten’s recollection is confirmed by Mr. David Bloomberg’s 16 March 2010 witness statement, who was sitting next to Jeff Hawkins in the meeting. Mr. Bloomberg states:
“He [Jeff Hawkins] worked in an area that was under my charge for three years (2002-2006). He held the position of Copywriter in the Church’s dissemination area. I have seen reports that Jeff Hawkins alleged abuse from Mr. Miscavige during this time. This is patently false and slanderous. The meeting was on February 26, 2002 in the conference room at International Management. Jeff Hawkins and another staffer were making a presentation on Dianetics to several International Management executives (Note: Neither Mark Rathbun or Amy Scobee was present at the meeting.) I was sitting next to Jeff during this meeting and at NO TIME did Mr. Miscavige physically attack him. Additionally, any meetings Jeff Hawkins attended with Mr. Miscavige from 2002 - 2005, I would have been present as the senior, and again there were no incidents of abuse, in fact totally the opposite. Mr. Miscavige would only give very positive direction and specific handlings to raise the quality and effectiveness of whatever was being worked on.” – Mr. David Bloomberg (16 March 2010, page 4 of affidavit.)
Ms. Jennifer Linson tells how her ex-husband, Tom DeVocht, confessed that he was responsible for over $10 million in overspends in Church construction projects he was overseeing during his staff career. Moreover, in her sworn statement she makes it clear, having lived with the man for 20 years, that his “characterizations are nothing short of scathing lies, which are pure sensationalism and absolutely not true.”
As for further evidence to these falsehoods, here is an excerpt of a sworn affidavit from the former Executive Director of Golden Era Productions, Mr. Jason Bennick, who stated:
“After 30 years of satisfactory volunteer service from 1978-2008, I discontinued [as staff] with the CofS [Church of Scientology] in January 2008 …
“I credit my current personal success to both the knowledge and experience gained through media, marketing, organizational and management activities while a [staff] member of the CofS … During my … tenure with the CofS from 1978-2006, I have personally known and/or participated through regular acquaintance by nature of direct or indirect working relations and/or personal friendship with David Miscavige, ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, through my [staff] participation within the CofS International and/or the Religious Technology Center.
… “My association with David Miscavige includes approximately 2,564 conferences/meetings, over 11,500 approximate hours of dialogue, and approximately 196 projects with mutual involvement.
… “My association with David Miscavige includes approximately 47 celebratory and/or personal events and/or activities.
… “At no time, during my 30 years tenure as a volunteer with the CofS, nor within my 25 years association and participation and/or co-relations with David Miscavige, as described herein, have I ever personally experienced, or borne witness to, visibly or audibly, the infliction of bodily harm, physical pain or any physiological damage to another human being, as a result of any contact, encounter, engagement, communication, altercation or shared circumstance, with David Miscavige, with myself present, or as otherwise informed of, by any of my current and/or former associates.”
See further data in Mr. Bennick’s affidavit at freedommag.org.
Wright contends that “… Mariette Lindstrom [sic Lindstein], who worked in Miscavige’s office, witnessed as many as twenty attacks, ‘You get very hardened,’ she admitted. She saw Miscavige banging the heads of two of his senior executives, Marc Yager and Guillaume Lesevre, together repeatedly, until blood came out of Lesevre’s ear …”
Mr. Yager and Mr. Lesevre adamantly deny they were ever assaulted. The false statement appears to stem originally from Steve Hall, a former Church member and Rathbun devotee. Hall made a similar allegation in August 2009 to the St. Petersburg Times, claiming that the “head-banging” incident took place and not mentioning Mariette Lindstein (who is also a member of Rathbun’s anti-Scientology posse). It appears that Wright’s group of apostate witnesses have since rewritten Lindstein into their script but failed to make sure their stories match. Furthermore, Mariette Lindstein never worked in Mr. Miscavige’s office. She worked in a different part of the organization and lost even that position. With a history of committing petty thefts and lying, she was removed from post. Offered the opportunity to undergo a correction program, she refused, left the Church and later became an attacker of the Church.
Lawrence Wright was on notice that the contentions he was buying into were false. Many of these same executives quote above wrote to his editor complaining about the lies being told. Wright ignored them.
Lawrence Wright’s approach has been to facilitate and afford credibility to embittered former Scientologists who ascribed violence to Mr. Miscavige and claimed that the Church was in dire straits. The passage of time has proven this to be entirely unfounded. Regardless, he has given these people a platform to disseminate their abusive and totally unsubstantiated lies, while ignoring offers made by the Church for access to its premises, staff and executives at the outset of his writing his book. (See “The Posse of Lunatics: A Story of Lies, Crimes, Violence, Infidelity and Betrayal” in Freedom Magazine).