[Page 400] “Garry Scarff, a former Scientologist, told me (and has testified) that he was instructed to learn how to sever the brake line on Cynthia Kisser’s car; he says that if the resulting accident failed to kill her, he was to pretend to be a good Samaritan, then reach into the car and strangle her. The plan was never put into action, however.”
>> True Information: Mr. Wright attributes these film-noir fantasies to Garry Scarff.
Mr. Wright fails to mention, however, that Mr. Scarff is neither a Scientologist, nor a bank teller, but rather a self-admitted inveterate liar (a trait to which he swore under oath). Surely if one is reporting on a bank robbery there would be evidence—like a police report.
Indeed, in the late 1970s/early 1980s, Mr. Scarff had ingratiated himself with the now-defunct Cult Awareness Network (“CAN”) with his tragic account of how his father and his son were lost at the 1978 Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. CAN promoted his story to raise funds and to gain media exposure. In 1988, Mr. Scarff's tale was revealed to be a total fabrication and he was ousted from CAN. His father was alive and he had no son.
(See Agents of Discord, Deprogramming, Pseudo-Science, and the American Anti-cult Movement, by Anson Shupe (2006, Transaction Publishers), pages 87-88 (PDF))
Lawrence Wright defended his use of Garry Scarff to The Daily Beast saying he had interviewed Garry Scarff in the presence of Scarff’s attorney. That attorney—Graham E. Berry—was one of the main people who promulgated Scarff’s lies in the early 1990s.
After Mr. Scarff’s Jonestown lie was exposed, Garry Scarff then switched sides and approached various minority religions harmed by his previous anti-religious propaganda, including the Church of Scientology, offering to educate the public about CAN. He then flip-flopped again, sitting for an extensive deposition in 1993 for attorney Graham Berry about his supposed “anti-CAN” exploits and involvement with Scientology, including the bizarre plan cited above (all of which were invented). Garry Scarff was never a Scientologist.
Flip-flopping yet again in July 1997, Garry Scarff executed an affidavit in which he addressed some of the many lies he had told in his perjured 1993 deposition, one of which was that he had acted as an operative for the Church of Scientology. He wrote:
“12. During the course of the deposition, my false testimony included the following assertions. I knew that the statements I made would be used against the Church, and that though they would surely deny them (as the events never happened), they would be recounted anyway, and it would create negative publicity and sentiment against the Church.
“a. I made up a story that I had conspired with attorneys Kendrick Moxon, Timothy Bowles and Laurie Bartilson, as well as with investigator Eugene Ingram, to murder CAN’s Executive Director, Cynthia Kisser, and San Francisco attorney, Ford Greene, who had represented individuals in legal actions with the Church. The truth of the matter is that no such meeting was ever held and I was never ordered or asked to murder anyone and I completely fabricated the story with the knowing participation of Mr. Berry. I never even met Mr. Moxon until he appeared for a few minutes during one of the sessions of my deposition. I luckily recognized him then only because I had seen his photograph in a media article, so I feigned having met him before to try to bolster my credibility.
“b. That I had been a member of the Church of Scientology, and an 'operative' conducting illegal or unethical activities on behalf of the Church, since the early 1980’s. In fact, I have never even been a member of the Church, much less an employee or 'operative' for any Church of Scientology. I forged invoices and similar documents to support my false claim of having taken various Church religious services. Nor have I ever done anything illegal or unethical at the instruction of, on behalf of, or with the knowledge of any member of the Church of Scientology. To the contrary, I was specifically directed by representatives of the Church that I was not to do anything illegal or unethical while educating the public about CAN and told that, should I do so, they would immediately cease all contact with me.”
The attorney responsible for Scarff’s perjured 1993 deposition was Graham Berry, who happens to be the same attorney for several sources relied on by Lawrence Wright.
Mr. Berry was disciplined by the courts and the bar for filing a number of harassing and frivolous claims against the Church of Scientology in the 1990s. In one of his most bizarre claims, Mr. Berry filed a civil suit against several Scientology churches on behalf of anti-Scientologist Michael Pattinson, naming President Clinton and Russia’s premier, among others, as defendants in a grand conspiracy. His bizarre complaint alleged Clinton, the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Secretary of State, the U.S. Special Trade Representative, two IRS Commissioners and the Russian leader were involved in a grandiose conspiracy to advance Scientology across the world.
In one exchange in September 1998, the judge chastised Berry, stating, “Mr. Berry, I really expect a complaint that is—has a purpose to it that is not engaged in something that goes out on the Internet, which is a rambling tale of irrelevancy.”
Finally the court had had enough. The federal court judge found Berry’s lawsuit on behalf of Michael Pattinson to constitute an act of harassment and assessed $12,500 in monetary sanctions against Pattinson and his attorney, plus attorney’s fees for a total of $28,484.72.
In California, a person who files at least three suits based upon false or unsupportable information for the purpose of harassment may be declared a “vexatious litigant.” Such a finding forbids the offender from filing any future suits without prior approval from the Court. After rulings against Berry by three different judges that he had brought unsupportable claims to harass Scientology churches and their leaders, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Alexander Williams stated to Berry, “With all the due respect, Sir, I have to sadly state that if there is such a thing on God’s green Earth as a vexatious litigant, you, Sir, sadly, are it.” The Court declared Berry to be a vexatious litigant on August 20, 1999. In May of 2002, Berry was suspended from the practice of law by the California Bar for his continued pattern of misconduct, including the filing of frivolous litigation against the Church that misrepresented facts.
Lawrence Wright never asked the Church for information about Garry Scarff or his attorney Graham Berry. Had he done so, he would have been supplied the above information, which any objective journalist would have considered relevant to evaluating credibility. Even so, a modest amount of research on the Internet would have disclosed they are not reliable sources.
Even one of Lawrence Wright’s many apostate source, Mike Rinder, knew Garry Scarff was unreliable, yet Wright used Scarff anyway. In his July 1997 affidavit, Garry Scarff wrote:
“18. When I first arrived in Southern California, we were directly confronted by Mr. Michael Rinder, an executive in the Church of Scientology International, who accused me of having lied in the past by falsely pretending to have lost family members in Jonestown...”
The Church wrote to Mr. Wright eight times asking who the “150” sources were so the Church could provide information that would prove valuable in ascertaining their credibility. For example, in 2011, the Church wrote to Mr. Wright:
“You stated 'I’ve talked to more than 150 people so far...' What does this number mean? Are the 150 people a survey of 150 pedestrians in your Austin community? Are they the apostate sources you talked to while attending their 4th of July party? In order to judge the credibility of the information, one would need to know who are the '150 people.'
“Moreover, you act as if '150 people' is a substantial number. In the time you replied to my letter, nearly 10,000 Scientologists gathered at Saint Hill in England, to celebrate the 27th anniversary of the International Association of Scientologists. Another 1,500 were present for the ribbon cutting of the new Ideal Church of Scientology in Twin Cities one week later. And more than 5,000 joined us in inaugurating a new Church and community center in Inglewood, California just last weekend. They represent '16,500 people' who do not agree with your insulting, bigoted portrayal of the Scientology religion. Your numbers do not reflect the world of Scientology. Without providing us with names and specifics, you fail to allow the Church a real opportunity to show your sources are unreliable, biased, have profit or other motives and are not credible. Since I presume you will not be using 150 anonymous sources to support your book, it would be prudent for you to be transparent and inform the Church who has spoken about the religion, the Church or its leadership and what they have to say.”
Mr. Wright refused the Church’s offer of assistance saying, “It seems that the only thing you're really interested in is getting a list of my sources. You can have that as soon as the book is published, not before.”
The frailty of Mr. Wright’s avoiding information from the Church is he published a book with this type of factual error.
In his Daily Beast comments Mr. Wright states that Garry Scarff gave him other information that Mr. Wright did not use in the book. Only Mr. Wright knows why he really didn't use Scarff's “other information” but it surely was an indicator that Garry Scarff was a biased and unreliable source—yet Mr. Wright used him anyway to publicize the false allegation about a bank robbery that never occurred and that had nothing to do with the Church of Scientology.