August 14, 1998
Letter to the editor from Scientologist, Frank Offman
To the Editor:
The article of July 31 (“Antagonism leads to shotgun blasts”), mentions how Robert Minton of Sandown apparently shot at peaceful Church of Scientology parishioners without rational reasons -he claims he has been emotionally damaged by his brutal involuntarily incarceration into a psychiatric institution at the age of 16.
What led to Minton’s involuntary commitment is not commonly known, but the residual hostility within him is very evident.
The goal of Scientology is a world without war, crime and insanity where the able can prosper and honest beings have rights. Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard first released “Dianetics” The Modern Science of Mental Health” in 1950, followed by millions of Scientologists reporting miraculous successes from their application of Scientology methods to real life situations. Scientology is an applied religious philosophy that enables one to gain a greater understanding of their own spiritual nature.
In 1951 Hubbard’s bestselling book, Science of Survival, exposed CIA-funded psychiatric mind-control experimentation, which used electroshock, drugs and hypnosis to program innocent people to become robotic assasins. Later these incidents were recounted in well-known publications and movies such as the Manchurian Candidate and Conspiracy Theory.
Minton stated on several occasions the irreparable damage psychiatry has had on his youth and his overall depression in life. Perhaps this is a similar story to that of the recent Capitol Hill gunman, Russell Eugene Weston Jr., who also had a long history of emotional problems before his frenzied shooting.
Who can tell what really set Minton off to fire a shotgun at peaceful Church parishioners who were merely asserting their freedom of speech? Did he just take on the colors of the psychiatric enemies he was trying to fight? It was fortunate that the skilled police officers of Sandown arrived early enough on the scene to handcuff Mr. Minton and protect him against himself and others,
For several decades, the Church of Scientology has worked shoulder to shoulder with government and private agencies to expose and eradicate illegalities in the field of psychiatry, including fraudulent involuntary commitment. Many of these activities were followed by shutdowns of these asylums.
The Church of Scientology remains dedicated to eradicating psychiatric abuses such as occurred in Minton’s case and hopefully Robert Minton one day will come to realize who his true enemies were.
Public Affairs Director
Church of Scientology
Local man helps many leave Scientology
Church says he distorts truth
by Lara Bricker, Staff Writer
July 31, 1998
Sandown – Just who is 51 year-old Robert Minton, and why has he spent almost $2 million dollars helping people he feels have been victimized by the Church of Scientology?
If you ask him, the Boston resident who owns a summer home on Fremont road in Sandown will tell you it’s because he doesn’t believe in Xenu, an evil galactic overlord who controlled nine planets in this section of the galaxy 75 million years ago and then decided to do a little population control by wiping out 7 billion people.
It is something Minton contends Scientologists are taught. And it’s an expensive lesson, he says, costing as much as $360,000 to get to the top levels of the church.
According to Minton, Scientologists are taught that Xenu injected all the “bad” people with glycerol and alcohol, froze them and then sent them in rocket ships to Teegeak (the Scientologists’ name for Earth) where they were deposited in volcanoes on the Canary Islands and Hawaii.
Minton feels the methods used by the church brainwash people and, after extended exposure to these techniques, the critical thinking capabilities of their brains are shut down.
“By the time they learn about Xenu, it wouldn’t matter if the story was a thousand times more bizarre.” Minton says. “You’re not able to think, to make critical decisions. It’s really chilling what these people do.”
After learning of what he calls an illegal attempt by the church to remove a Web site containing information taken allegedly from their sacred scriptures, he began to study the church.
“What could be said about somebody that’s so bad that they try to stop free speech,” Minton said was his initial thought.
Kevin Hall, human rights officer for the church’s Boston location, said the reason the church was upset about the information on the Web site was it had been altered and was untrue.
After the untimely death of church member Lisa McPherson in 1996, Minton said he became more concerned about what was going on in the church. He said McPherson was locked up for 17 days in a Scientology headquarters in Clearwater, Fla., when she was in need of medical aid.
“I thought this was pretty appalling,” Minton says. “We got together and said we’re not going to let this get swept under the carpet.”
Minton felt moved to pay the attorney fees in a wrongful death suit McPherson’s parents filed against the church. Since then, he has assisted others he feels have been victims of the church.
He bought a house for Stacy Young and her husband who ran a shelter for cats, which was shut down, Minton said they feel, as retribution for their leaving the church.
Minton is currently preparing to assist another church deserter who, Minton said, plans to come forward with information about what goes on within the confines of Scientology. One of those former church members who doesn’t want his identity or whereabouts revealed, has information that apparently upset the church, Minton said.
When contacted by phone, the former church member described Minton as an angel come to help him.
Hall said Wednesday, Scientologists question the methods used by psychiatrists, especially the involuntarily commitment of individuals to institutions.
“When they do it involuntarily, it’s pretty un-American and un-constitutional,” Hall said. “Drugging is merely masking problems and leads to addiction. Mental instability is usually something physical.” Hall added, “that’s what we’re fighting.”
A retired investment banker, Minton has returned to Sandown for the past eight summers and, until last weekend, church protesters have not targeted his rural home, although they have picketed his Boston residence.
The Church of Scientology is skeptical of Minton’s motives, and a spokesperson said he wants to know why the Sandown summer resident is on a crusade to reform the church and why he is “spreading lies.” “He’s trying to destroy the church,” said Hall.
Minton says the mind-control techniques the church uses could account for why people haven’t come forward until now. He says the church instill fear in members.
“you can become outside your body, can control matter, energy and space,” he said church members are told. “If I don’t like you, I can with my eyes kill you.”
Hall says Minton fails to recognize the good work the church has done.
“When he spreads things, he certainly doesn’t talk about literacy programs, criminal rehabilitation programs in inner cities around the country,” Hall says. “He’s not a nice guy.”
Although the estimated number of Scientologists in New Hampshire doesn’t even make a dent in the estimated 8 million members worldwide, Hall says they are around. He says there is a small mission in Concord and estimates about 500 members live in New Hampshire. Due to the size of the New Hampshire mission, Scientologists have had to leave the state to reach the highest levels of the church, he said.
Two of the protesters who picketed outside Minton’s Sandown home last weekend live in Newfields.
Part of the allure of Scientology, Minton said, is the fact that several well-known actors who have joined the church: Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Lisa Marie Presley, to name a few. He said the celebrity names make people think if people like that are involved it must be legitimate.
Hall says the philosophy of the church centers on helping people and improving their ability to deal with and live their lives. As for the skeptics, he says, they should not listen to Minton’s claims.
“The church has a long track record of improving life. Millions of people attest to it,” Hall said. “What people should do is look at the material on Scientology and think for yourself; learn to understand life, think for yourself.”
Sandown Police: Shots Fired in Spat With Protesters
By Hope Ullman – Union Leader Correspondent
July 28, 1998
SANDOWN — A longtime opponent of the “Church” of Scientology allegedly fired two shots into the air Saturday after telling “Church” of Scientology members — who had been picketing outside his summer home on Fremont Road — to leave his property.
Robert Minton, a longtime “church” opponent and defender of those he believes have been victimized by the “church,” fired a 12-gauge shotgun into the air after asking four pickets and a private detective hired by the “church” to leave, Police Chief Scott Currier said.
Although Minton has apparently seen his share of Scientologists picketing outside his Boston home, this was the first such incident in Sandown, Currier said. Officer Ben Pinault responded to the scene after hearing the shots.
“He had seen picketers out there earlier in the day, and we are somewhat aware of the conflict between Mr. Minton and the ‘Church’ of Scientology,” Currier said.
The protesters were gone when police from Sandown, Chester, Fremont and Danville and two state troopers arrived. Asked why so many law-enforcement officers responded, Currier said, “We know they’ve had an ongoing feud between them. We didn’t know what we were dealing with, so we prepared for the worst. … We spoke to Mr. Minton and took custody of the firearm for the night just for everyone’s safety.” The incident remains under investigation. Currier said neither side had filed a complaint yesterday, and no charges were expected. However, a man who identified himself as Gerard Renna, one of the Scientologists who protested, said he plans to file a formal complaint against Minton today.
“We did a peaceful demonstration. He shot the gun,” said Renna, who phoned a reporter yesterday. Renna said he’s tired of Minton “going on ‘Dateline’ and spreading lies about the ‘church.’ I’m just a little fed up. He’s been a little un-American.”
Attempts to contact Minton yesterday were not successful.
Minton has organized demonstrations against the “church” before, Renna said, so Scientologists should be allowed to do the same.
“A Scientologist is just one who tries to better his conditions in life” through the teachings of the “church’s” founder, L. Ron Hubbard, Renna said. “I don’t understand why someone would want to attack a fast-growing[sic] religion[sic].” According to Kevin Hall, human-rights[sic] officer for the “Church” of Scientology in Boston, the “church” is “a religious[sic] philosophy that deals with improving[sic] life and helps[sic] individuals develop themselves mentally and spiritually[sic] and use their full potential by increasing the ability to communicate, study better and realize the potential (they) have.”
Hall said he does not understand the basis of Minton’s protests against the “church.”
As for Saturday’s protest, “There were some people very upset about what he’s been pushing in the media,” Hall said. “He’s basically been funding a group of people to attack us through the media and courts….” Hall alleged that after the protesters knocked on Minton’s door to tell him they were protesting, Minton told them to leave; they did, and he then allegedly fired the shots into the air.
According to a July 9 report in the Boston Globe, Minton has endured numerous protests outside his Boston home by Scientologists who have reportedly written and distributed fliers containing attacks against him, in addition to hiring private detectives to investigate his past. Minton reportedly questioned whether Scientologists were responsible in the past for many odd incidents, such as a dead cat he once found on his Sandown doorstep. “Church” officials denied any involvement in that incident.
Minton, a multimillionaire, has devoted much of his post-retirement life and funds to helping those he alleges were victimized by the “church.” Asked why, Minton told the Globe he believes in the First Amendment; he has the money to fight the “church” and its alleged harassment of former members; and he can’t forget being locked up in a mental institution for several days at age 16 against his will.
According to the Globe story, that experience led to his interest in the case of Lisa McPherson, who, Minton and other Scientology detractors allege, died after being locked up for 17 days in a Scientology-owned hotel in Clearwater, Fla. Minton reportedly paid for an attorney for the family of McPherson in a wrongful death suit against the Scientologists. “Church” officials denied responsibility for her death.
“I was never a member of the group, but I’m involved because I believe everyone has the right to believe what they want,” Minton told the Globe.
“People don’t have the right to have their minds controlled and manipulated in the way the Scientologists manipulate people. I’m so incredibly shocked at the pain the Scientologists can cause people. It’s so obvious that Scientology, like other groups and cults, causes a lot of devastation,” he said.
Police Chief Currier said his main concern is for the safety of all residents.
“We don’t know what to expect,” Currier said. “There’s a lot of rumors and innuendoes … so we don’t really know how far this is going to go.” Hall said the “church” is a peaceful organization.
“As far as I’m concerned, if the ‘Church’ of Scientology and Mr. Minton have problems, they should keep it between the two of them and take it to a courtroom, and they shouldn’t be playing high school games and getting the rest of the community involved,” Currier said.
“I would say that both sides are pushing their luck, and are pretty close to crossing the line in terms of breaking the law. The ‘Church’ of Scientology had no business being on his property, and Mr. Minton had no business discharging a firearm into the air.”
Incensed by Scientology’s ways, millionaire is bent on forcing change, even though he’s not a member
By Patti Doten, Globe Staff
July 9, 1998
Robert Minton is a multimillionaire who retired in 1992 at age 46. He has a wife, his third, and two bright young daughters. He lives in an elegant town house on Beacon Hill filled with antiques and Oriental rugs. He also owns a weekend home on several hundred acres in Sandown, N.H.
So why has this self-made man chosen to do battle with the Church of Scientology instead of sitting back and enjoying his financial success and a peaceful, family existence? And why, especially, when he has never been a church member?
Because, he says, he believes in the First Amendment; has the money to fight the church and what he calls its harassment of critics and former church members; and because he cannot forget being locked up at age 16 in a mental institution against his will.
His crusade, costing $1.5 million to date, has not been without its repercussions and has had a direct effect on his and his family’s life.
Since last fall Minton has been greeted with anti-Minton fliers written by Scientologists and dropped on his and his neighbors’ doorsteps or pinned to trees lining the quaint streets ofhis upscale urban neighborhood. He’s looked out his windows to see groups from the church picketing his house. And he’s had detectives hired by the Scientologists checking every phase of his background both here and abroad – and this has affected the relationship between Minton and his mother and son. But what he found most disturbing were the anti-Minton fliers distributed while he was vacationing with his family on the Caribbean island of St. Barts in March. After a day at the beach, Minton returned to his car to find the church’s calling cards on his and more than a dozen other windshields.
”People ask me why I’m involved in all this when it isn’t my fight,” says Minton, during an interview at his home and over lunch at a Charles Street restaurant. ”I was never a member of this group but I’m involved because I believe everyone has the right to believe what they want.
”People don’t have the right,” continues Minton, his words becoming more impassioned with each sentence, ”to have their minds controlled and manipulated in the way the Scientologists manipulate people. I’m just so incredibly shocked at the pain Scientology can cause people. It’s so obvious that Scientology, like other groups and cults, causes a lot of devastation.”
Advancing through audits
The Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by L. Ron Hubbard, a prolific science-fiction writer who died in 1986. In his teachings, Hubbard described humans as clusters of spirits that had been trapped in ice and banished to Earth 75 million years ago by an intergalactic ruler. Through self-help techniques and counseling sessions known as auditing, Scientologists believe they can live more productive lives. But the often substantial costs of these sessions has drawn criticism over the years and in 1967 the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status that the church had been given in 1957. The IRS reversed that decision in 1993.
”Scientology means the study of knowledge and it recognizes that the person himself is a spiritual being and he has a mind and he has a body,” says Heber C. Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International. ”And Scientology is not a dogma, it is a route, a way, rather than a dissertation or an assertive body of knowledge. We believe man is basically good.”
For six months, Minton says, he has become the church’s ”numero uno” target and he in turn has slowly made Scientology the focus of his time, energy, and money. He has a growing suspicion that church members are responsible for personal belongings that have disappeared and other odd incidents.
He wonders, for example, if the Scientologists are responsible for a dead cat he found on his doorstep in New Hampshire. And he wonders if they stole his laptop computer and address book from the trunk of his rental car in California, where he’d gone to picket the church’s April celebration of Hubbard’s birthday.
Jentzsch acknowledges that the church hired detectives to look into Minton’s past, had an attorney contact him, and that Scientologists did distribute fliers in Boston. But he denies any church involvement in the cat and computer incidents.
Despite these incidents and the pressures on his family, Minton, who made his fortune trading in the debts of Third World countries, says he will continue his anti-Scientology efforts indefinitely.
”The harassment began last fall after I bought a home [for $260,000] for a couple, former Scientologists, who were being hounded by the church in Seattle,” says Minton, who became interested in the church while surfing the Internet in the spring of 1995. ”At that time, I got a phone call from a lawyer named Elliot Abelson, a heavy-hitting attorney who works for the Scientologists.
”He asked if I were surprised to hear from him. I said no because I knew he was representing the church. He then asked why someone like me with a stable life and family and financial means would want to get involved with the Scientologists. He clearly was giving me a veiled warning.”
Minton said he was more curious than fearful about the call and expected to hear further from Abelson. But he did not.
Jentzsch confirms that Abelson did call Minton because he wanted to know why Minton ”started bankrolling individuals litigating against the Church concerning matters in which he had no apparent interest.”
Then the fliers and picketing began. The investigation into his background started after he paid an attorney for the family of Lisa McPherson in a wrongful death suit against the Scientologists. McPherson died after a 17-day stay in a church-owned hotel in Clearwater, Fla. According to published reports, church officials say that McPherson was under 24-hour watch at the hotel during which time she spit out food, banged violently on the walls of her room, and hallucinated. The county medical examiner said McPherson was deprived of water for at least her last 5 days and died of a blood clot brought on by severe dehydration. Church officials deny responsibility for her death.
Kennan Dandar, the attorney for the McPhersons, says he is preparing to take the civil suit to trial early next year.
But it was the fliers that have been the most public and vitriolic. Some of the accusations:
” Robert Minton, of … West Cedar Street, has given $1.25 million to complete strangers to destroy a religion while his own mother lives on Social Security.” ”Like many hate mongers, he has a history of psychiatric problems. But a troubled past is no excuse for leading KKK-style rallies and spreading poison on the Internet about a peaceful religion known for its helpful literacy and drug r ehabilitation programs.”
”Mr. Minton refuses to help his own son with a loan to purchase a house, yet forked over $1.5 million to fund the members of a known hate group in a campaign to create intolerance & hatred.”
“Mr. Minton acts like a bully to anyone he can manipulate with his money. His second wife left him rather than put up with his brutal beatings.”
The first of these fliers was unsigned, succeedings ones, with the exception of the St. Barts missive, carried the following identifier: This is written as a public service of STAND (Scientologists Taking Action for Non-Discrimination).
”The fliers never really bothered me because I knew that if you tell lies often enough, someone is going to believe them,” says Minton. ”I know some people are going to believe some of what has been said about me. But what can I do? I’m not a member of the truth police. Sure, I could pass out my own fliers. But I won’t. I’d be a basket case if I worried about what the Scientologists say about me and what people believe. And yes, I’m relatively confident about who I am. Perhaps you might say arrogant. I think I drive them crazy. I think they find my attitude extraordinary.”
Burden on his family
But the effect on his family has been an issue, especially for older daughter, Katherine. Drawing attention to oneself at age 12, Minton says, is something every preteen tries to avoid. Having picketers in front of your house can bring nothing but embarrassment to a young girl, says Minton.
”I’ve told my girls that, yes, their dad is different,” says Minton of Katherine and Sarah, 10. ”I’ve explained that I’m just not prepared to let these guys act like predators on people who are trying to exercise their most fundamental rights in a democracy.”
At Christmas, he says, he and his wife gave a party for close friends and neighbors. During the evening, he noticed several boys dropping balloons filled with water off the back deck. Katherine later explained that the boys had come armed with the balloons in case the Scientologists were picketing.
”I thought that was a nice sign of support for her,” says Minton, who chooses his words carefully when discussing his children and wife. ”The kids in her class knew what was going on because they’d talked about a newspaper article about me in their current events class.
”So yes, Katherine initially exhibited age-appropriate embarrassment but time has made everything less of an issue,” says Minton, who adds that his girls understand that his involvement is not going to end any time soon.
Minton says what most sparked his anger were the fliers in St. Barts.
”It was so unexpected. I think that’s why it got to me. But it certainly was not surprising because that’s the sort of violation of personal boundaries that the Scientologists enjoy,” says Minton, who is reluctant to talk about his reactions because he does not want to fuel the Scientologists’ tactics. ”It was a tactic to make my wife squirm. To make me squirm. They gloated about this incident on the Internet – about their unstoppable reach, that nobody is outside the reach of the Church of Scientology.”
Jentzsch says he does not know anything about the fliers in St. Barts but does confirm that ”individual Scientologists have distributed fliers in Boston to draw attention to what they felt was Minton’s religious bigotry.”
Minton’s wife, Therese, says she supports her husband. His dedication does not surprise her, she says, because her husband has always had strong beliefs. But does she hope his involvement will end?
”Oh God, I hope so,” she says during a short telephone interview. ”But I know he has made a commitment and I feel my job is to protect my family and not let all this have a negative effect on our lives. I’ve tried to make it a positive experience for our girls. That their dad has strong beliefs and it’s important to have such beliefs and to stand up for what he believes is right.”
She says they don’t thrash it out at the dinner table but talk about other things.
”But I guess I do exercise more caution than the girls know about,” says Therese, whose family in England was contacted by Scientologists looking into her background. ”I look at who’s walking down our street when I go out the front door and take other little precautions. But I want everyone to know that we are truly there for him.”
Jentzsch confirms that church attorneys retained ”qualified investigators” to try to ”discover the man’s true agenda.”
His mother talked
What Minton has found most disturbing is that his mother, son, and brother talked to detectives after he’d warned them to keep silent. He has little contact with them and is openly upset by what he sees as their betrayal.
Detectives ”went to where my family works or to their homes and told them that I was being accused of hate crimes against the Scientologists,” says Minton. ”They said I was giving millions to people who are out to destroy the Scientologists. They told my mother that if I wasn’t putting all these millions into a war against the Scientologists, maybe she could have a nicer home. They used the same tactic with my son and he began to question how I was spending my money.”
He says his mother probably sat down with the detectives because, like any mother, she likes to talk about her sons. His younger brother, he says, was probably shaken after being told his big brother was under investigation for an extortion attempt against the church. He probably thought, says Minton, that somehow he might get in trouble if he kept silent.
”I guess I didn’t do a good enough job preparing my family for the tactics of these people,” says Minton, who grew up in Nashville. ”My family is Southern and they’re not used to dealing with strangers in a forceful way.”
Minton’s mother, Catherine Minton, says she is surprised by her son’s involvement with the Scientologists because she didn’t think ”he was interested in these sorts of things.” She agreed to talk with two Scientology members who arrived on her doorstep, but now regrets that she did.
”I was really upset when they left,” says his mother, during a phone conversation from her room in a Florida nursing home. ”They wanted to know everything about Bob and it really was none of their business. I wish I’d never let them into my house. I wish I hadn’t talked to them.
”What Bob is doing is really his business,” she says. ”I can’t do anything about it. But I sure wish he’d quit fooling around with these people because of his family.”
His son by his first marriage, Rob Minton, 30, is more vehement.
”We’ve always had a rocky relationship,” says his son, during a recent phone conversation from his home in Kentucky. ”There have always been many problems. He’s got a lot of money and he’s bored. He doesn’t have any hobbies so this has become his hobby – a very expensive hobby at that. But I think it’s a waste of time. Why not help underprivileged kids or battered women? Why this? Why didn’t he spend this kind of time and energy on our relationship? He never visited me in college and did not come to my graduation. We’ve never had a father/son relationship.”
Minton, in response to the fliers about his family, says that over the years, he has been very generous with family members. He says he took a mortgage on his mother’s home to protect her from herself because she has a history of borrowing against the equity and getting herself in financial trouble. He says he did not appreciate his son’s questioning how he spends his money, especially the money he paid for the home for the former Scientology couple who wanted to open a cat sanctuary near Seattle. And he says, he will, as promised, give his son a down payment for a home when he marries.
As to the psychiatric problems alluded to in the fliers, Minton says they stem from several days spent in a mental hospital when he was 16.
”My father was very abusive towards my mother, so when I was 16 she up and left,” says Minton, whose father owned clothing stores in Nashville. ”A week later my father and I got into an altercation and I left the house and took the car.”
His father called police and they chased the young Minton through the streets of suburban Nashville until he overturned the car. He was taken to the police station and at 1 in the morning transported to a private mental institution, he says.
”I felt terribly abandoned there,” says Minton. ”I had no idea how long I’d have to stay or why I was put there. I was locked up in a padded cell like an animal. I wasn’t allowed to contact anyone.”
On the third day he managed to call his girlfriend’s mother, who called his grandfather. The next morning his father and grandfather picked him up and he went to live with his grandparents – permanently.
It was this experience that triggered his interest in Lisa McPherson who, according to Minton and published reports, died after being locked up for 17 days in the Scientology-owned hotel. So far Minton has committed $350,000 to the civil suit.
”Bob is extremely serious about what he’s doing,” says Dandar, the McPherson ‘s attorney. ”He sees Scientology as a big bully and violator of human rights. He’s astounded at what happened to Lisa. And he puts his money where his mouth is. I know he’ll see this case through to the end.”
Minton says he’s never before supported a cause with such passion. He protested the Vietnam War but not with the energy he has devoted to Scientology. It has enveloped him to the point that he’s backed away from many of his former activities, such as helping to coach his daughters’ Little League team and spending time raising money for his daughters’ private school.
What is interesting is that Scientologists have recently requested sit-down meetings with Minton. And he has agreed. Minton met for five hours in Los Angeles and two hours in Boston in a hotel room at the Marriott Long Wharf with two high-ranking Scientologists, Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder. Minton says he believes the meetings came about because they thought that schmoozing with him might help persuade him to ask the producers of ”Dateline” not to air a show on him on June 16.
Jentzsch confirms that they met with Minton but denies that the purpose was to convince him to cancel the ”Dateline.” ”I don’t think he could do this, in any event.”
Minton plans to meet further with the Scientologists. He says he hopes that might lead to changes within the church.
”My involvement does surprise me at times. It certainly wasn’t there at the beginning,” says Minton, who notes that the fliers and picketing stopped, with the exception of St. Barts, after he took pictures of the picketers and posted them on the Internet late this winter. ”I’m spending all my time on this and I have no thoughts of retreating.”
This story ran on page E01 of the Boston Globe on 07/09/98.
© Copyright 1998 Globe Newspaper Company.
By LUCY MORGAN and THOMAS C. TOBIN
©St. Petersburg Times, published December 23, 1997
By LUCY MORGAN and THOMAS C. TOBIN ©St. Petersburg Times, published December 23, 1997 LOS ANGELES — The Church of Scientology is complaining loudly about a Boston banker’s effort to finance anti-Scientology activities, including a wrongful death lawsuit against the church in Tampa.
Scientology has blasted Robert S. Minton Jr. for donating more than $1.25-million to its critics, calling his actions “nefarious” and underhanded. The church contends he is illegally interfering with lawsuits involving Scientology.
But earlier this decade, Scientology officials themselves backed several lawsuits against one of the church’s own adversaries, the Cult Awareness Network.
Attorneys and top officials for Scientology say there is no comparison because Minton’s motives are “sordid” and their efforts in the lawsuits against CAN were in defense of religious freedom.
“The only thing that’s the same is that there are lawsuits involved,” said Kendrick Moxon, a long-time Scientology attorney based in California. “If you say that’s a contradiction, that’s just a lie,” he said. “That’s just Southern prejudice” against Scientology.
Minton’s donations include $100,000 to Tampa lawyer Ken Dandar, who represents the estate of Lisa McPherson in a wrongful death lawsuit against the church.
McPherson was the 36-year-old Scientologist who died in 1995 after a 17-day stay at the church’s Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater. Police investigators have recommended criminal charges in the case.
In an effort to get more information about Minton, the church is using a bankruptcy case involving a church critic to subpoena records of Minton’s donations. At a hearing scheduled today in Tampa, Dandar is expected to argue against the church’s effort.
Dandar said he never heard of Minton until church lawyers asked about him this summer. He said he inquired about Minton over the Internet and Minton responded, offering financial aid in the McPherson case.
Minton also has given money to a number of other church critics, including three people whom the church brands as criminals for infringing on Scientology’s copyrights.
But Minton’s contributions are a fraction of the money and effort Scientology poured into lawsuits that bankrupted CAN, according to a lawyer who has defended the group. Attorney Daniel Leipold puts CAN’s legal expenses at roughly $2-million, and “for every nickel we spent, they spent at least a dollar.”
CAN was formed in 1973 by California families who had children in cults, but these days a call to the Cult Awareness hot line is likely to be answered by a Scientologist. A Scientology lawyer bought the network’s name and hot line after CAN declared bankruptcy in 1996.
For years Scientology had publicly denounced CAN, issuing news releases that accused the group of bigotry, kidnapping and other crimes. CAN countered with public denunciations of Scientology as a harmful cult that breaks up families, fleeces people out of money and endangers the lives of its members.
In 1991, CAN chapters around the country began getting letters from Scientologists who wanted to join the organization. There were strong similarities of language between the letters, which expressed sympathy with CAN’s efforts to help people “make responsible and informed decisions when it comes to religious choice.”
CAN admitted some of the Scientologists as members but rejected others. Within months, more than 35 discrimination lawsuits had been filed against CAN by individuals in California, Illinois, Washington, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon and the District of Columbia. Most were filed in various California courthouses.
Then Scientologists wrote to insurance companies that carried policies for CAN, asking that they stop paying the group’s legal bills.
CAN had five mostly part-time employees, a network of volunteers, an annual budget of about $300,000 and an 800-telephone number. Many of the callers were parents worried that their sons or daughters were in cults.
CAN turned to Leipold, an Orange, Calif., lawyer who handled defense cases for medical malpractice insurance companies. Lloyd’s of London paid the first $1-million in legal fees and costs, but costs are now double that figure and still counting.
As he defended CAN in the California suits, Leipold found himself in court against long-time Scientology attorneys and other lawyers who were being paid by Scientology.
And, as he took statements from individual Scientology plaintiffs, Leipold found a remarkable lack of knowledge. Several of the plaintiffs said they had not seen or signed the lawsuits, even though the court papers bore their signatures.
Brian Hart, one of the first Scientologists to file a suit against CAN in December 1992, said he did not see the lawsuit until 10 months later — three days before he testified in a deposition.
Hart told lawyers he could not remember how he got the name and addresses of CAN officials. Nor could he remember many other circumstances that led to the lawsuit, including who asked him to write to CAN.
Another plaintiff, Jonathan L. Nordquist of Chicago, fired his attorney and asked a judge to dismiss his lawsuit. He said Eugene Ingram, a private investigator for the Church of Scientology, paid him $300 to have lunch, and he agreed to be a plaintiff. Nordquist said he signed a blank page for Scientology attorneys.
“Scientology planned, instigated, coordinated and sponsored a plan to subject CAN to multiple lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions in order to overwhelm and eliminate it or take it over and control it,” said Leipold.
Moxon, the church attorney, said there was no grand plan. “My office handled quite a few of (the cases),” he said. “We understood that type of discrimination.”
He said his firm represented the plaintiffs mostly at no charge and that individual churches within Scientology “helped a little bit, but very little.”
Most of the CAN lawsuits were dismissed before trial after the organization agreed to allow Scientologists as members, but not before running up the legal tab.
It was a 1994 suit filed in Seattle that was the final straw for CAN. Jason Scott was kidnapped after his mother called a CAN volunteer and was referred to a cult deprogramer to retrieve her 18-year-old son from a Pentecostal group.
Moxon filed suit for Scott and won a $1.8-million verdict against CAN. The judgment has been appealed, but CAN already has declared bankruptcy.
After a Scientology lawyer purchased the CAN name in bankruptcy court, Scott fired Moxon and hired Graham Berry, a Los Angeles lawyer who often has represented clients against Scientology. Now Scott says he believes he was a pawn in Scientology’s plan to eliminate CAN. In an interview, Berry called Scientology “a bunch of hypocrites” for complaining about Minton.
But church officials say there is a clear distinction between Minton’s activities and Scientology’s role in the CAN lawsuits.
Scientologists were working successfully to preserve First Amendment rights for themselves and all religions, while Minton “is funding people who have been proven to be copyright infringers,” said Michael J. Rinder, a top Scientology official in Los Angeles. “These people are a pack of criminals,” he said.
Rinder also said that Minton, by his involvement in the Lisa McPherson lawsuit, is supporting an effort by Dandar to extort $80-million from the church.
Dandar said the Florida Bar told him the arrangement with Minton was ethical, provided Minton did not control the case or have access to confidential information. He said Minton agreed to those terms and gave the money “with no strings attached.”
By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press
Tuesday, December 09, 1997
BOSTON – A millionaire claims the Church of Scientology intimidates its detractors and prescribed medical techniques that he says killed one member. Church members say the millionaire is using “KKK-style” tactics to discredit the church.
Robert Minton has put $1.25 million into helping those fighting the church. He calls it an exercise of his First Amendment rights.
Members of the Church of Scientology have paid for a private investigator to dig into Minton’s private life and threatened to sue him in six states. They call it chasing a rat out of his hole.
A lawyer who has been involved in such attacks – both against and on behalf of religions – said such disputes can go on for years and become very emotional.
“Sometimes reason seems to evaporate,” said Lee Boothby, a Washington, D.C.-based church state lawyer.
“All of the very new and small religious groups that feel threatened tend to become very aggressive. The problem of it is, where will it end. I don’t know if I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Scientology, a religion founded on the writings of L. Ron Hubbard, has 700 centers in 65 countries. In 1991, Time Magazine estimated its membership at 50,000 members.
Scientologists have long complained the German government discriminates against them. They compare their treatment to Nazi harassment of Jews in the 1930s.
Boothby doesn’t disagree with the analogy.
“When you get to Eastern and Central Europe, where they’re passing restrictive legislation, the ones who suffer are not just new, new religions. Presbyterians in the Soviet Union have been evicted by property owned by government. Baptists have been prevented from holding public meetings. There, Baptists, Presbyterians and Lutherans are cults.”
Minton’s clash with the Scientologists began a few years ago when he was web surfing at his home in the historic Beacon Hill section of Boston.
While observing the news group, Minton took notice of the case of Dennis Erlich, a former Scientologist who had put copyrighted Scientology material on the Internet.
“They obtained an ex parte writ and invaded his home,” said Minton. “The cops and their lawyers carted away all this man’s computer equipment.”
Minton said he was appalled by the tactics used by Scientologists to violate their own members’ civil rights.
He contributed $5,000 to Erlich’s defense fund.
Earlier this year, he contributed $100,000 to plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit in Clearwater, Florida alleging the church caused the death of 36-year-old Lisa McPherson by holding her against her will and denying her care. Minton said he donated the funds to McPherson’s estate because Scientologists had a formidable defense team; he has also pledged another $250,000 to help finance the suit.
Minton said he’d let the Clearwater police decide if the Scientologists killed McPherson.
“Certainly L. Ron Hubbard’s medical techniques, which he prescribed Scientologists to follow, killed Lisa McPherson,” he said.
Two months ago, Minton bought a $260,000 home near Seattle for two former Scientologists who have testified against the church. The couple claim their landlord evicted them after Scientology officials pressured him to do so.
“Who’s behind this guy?” said Kendrick Moxon, an attorney for the Church of Scientology. “The man is going to be sued because he has committed torts all over the country and I want to know why is he trying to destroy religion and create chaos.”
Kurt Weiland, a Los Angeles-based spokesman for the Scientologists, accused Minton of “covertly funding, and in this way, manipulating litigation.”
Members of the Boston-area branch of the church passed out flyers on Beacon Hill last Friday, denouncing Minton. “This week he is leading a KKK-style rally against peaceful members of a religion,” read the flyer.
The flyer referred to Minton’s attendance at a rally outside a courthouse in Clearwater, Fla., marking the two-year anniversary of McPherson’s death.
Weiland admitted the group’s lawyers had hired at least one private investigator to look into Minton’s private life.
“If it takes five to get to the bottom of it to find out what are the hidden motives of this man, I will gladly endorse our lawyers to hire five.”
Boothby views all that litigation with dismay. “There’s more heat than light,” he said. “It tends to generate more heat on both sides than is useful.”
Copyright 1997, Naples Daily News. All rights reserved.
Hub man’s aid to Scientology critics draws fire and rhetoric from church
By Diego Ribadeneira, Globe Staff
December 9, 1997
A retired Beacon Hill investment banker has provided $1.25 million to critics of the Church of Scientology, triggering harsh denunciations from church members, who have handed out leaflets to the banker’s neighbors accusing him of using ”KKK-style” tactics.
Robert Minton said he decided to fund church critics because he believes Scientology abuses some of its members and uses unfair, strong-arm tactics to intimidate its detractors.
Minton, who is not a Scientologist, became aware of the church’s activities through the Internet. He said he does not question Scientology’s beliefs.
But, he added, ”I am trying in a rather helpful way to force this organization to reform. If they want to be a good member of the world’s religious communities, then they need to act like one.”
Minton’s tangle with the Church of Scientology began more than two years ago after the church took legal action against several people who were posting internal church documents on the Internet. The church charged that the postings violated copyright laws.
Minton, who says he viewed the struggle as a free speech issue, was alarmed at what he considered the extremes to which the church would go to quash dissent. He became one of many activists around the world campaigning for change within the Church of Scientology.
Eventually, Minton said, he decided to ”put my money where my mouth was and help individuals and organizations who were having problems with the church.”
Earlier this year, Minton contributed $100,000 to plaintiffs in a Florida lawsuit filed against the church involving the death two years ago of a Scientologist, Lisa McPherson.
The lawsuit, filed by McPherson’s estate, charges the church with holding the 36-year-old woman against her will while she slipped into a coma and eventually died. An autopsy revealed that McPherson died of a blood clot caused by severe dehydration. Florida authorities are conducting a criminal investigation into her death.
Minton said he donated the $100,000 because the church had a formidable defense team and had greater resources than the plaintiffs.
Last week, Minton took part in a demonstration in front of the church’s religious headquarters in Clearwater, Fla., marking the two-year anniversary of McPherson’s death. Minton said he has pledged to provide an additional $250,000 to help finance the Florida lawsuit against the church.
He also has provided money to former Scientologists in Washington state and an anti-Scientology activist in California.
Church officials accuse Minton of harboring hatred toward Scientology and attempting to foment internal dissent. On Friday while Minton was in Florida, several church members passed out fliers on Beacon Hill with his picture, denouncing him.
Frank Ofman, a spokesman for the Boston-area branch of the Church of Scientology, said church members distributed the leaflets to highlight Minton’s bias.
”The face of religious bigotry your neighbor, Robert Minton is not all what he seems,” read the fliers, which were not identified as coming from the Church of Scientology. ”This week he is leading a KKK-style rally against peaceful members of a religion. When he’s not stirring up hatred in the streets, Minton is poisoning the Internet by filling it full of religious bigotry and intolerance.”
”I don’t mind people picketing but handing out these leaflets is a little bit unethical,” Minton said.
Church officials acknowledged that they have conducted their own investigation into Minton’s funding practices. ”This is an extremely shady character because he covertly engages in a campaign to harm our religion,” said Kurt Weiland, director of external affairs for the church. ”It’s immoral and quite frankly perverse.”
In addition to helping fund the Florida lawsuit, Minton two months ago purchased a $260,000 home outside Seattle for two former Scientology members who run a cat shelter in west Seattle.
The couple, Vaughn and Stacy Young, who have testified against the church in several court cases, claim they were evicted from their home after their landlord was pressured by Scientology officials.
Minton also contributed $5,000 to a defense fund set up for Dennis Erlich, a California man who has been accused by the Church of Scientology of posting internal church documents on the Internet.
The Church of Scientology, which claims among its members Hollywood stars John Travolta and Tom Cruise, has been a lightning rod for criticism since its founding 43 years ago by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
Critics say the church charges exorbitant fees to members who take Scientology courses and tries to harass its foes into silence by, among other things, hiring private detectives to dig into their private lives.
Last month, Elliot J. Abelson, a Los Angeles attorney representing the Church of Scientology, wrote Minton a scathing letter.
”You are … fostering a climate of hatred” toward the church, the letter said. ”The church will not tolerate such conduct. I demand that you immediately withdraw all financial support for such matters and am warning that you and those you’re funding have crossed the threshold of legality.”
After consulting with his attorneys at Hale and Dorr, Minton did not respond to Abelson’s letter. ”What I was doing was protected free speech,” he said.
The church’s vocal attacks against Minton are typical, said religious scholars who study the Church of Scientology.
”If you take them on, you have to be ready for a battle,” said James T. Richardson, a professor of religion and judicial studies at the University of Nevada at Reno.
”The church is very aggressive in court and out of court,” said J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion, an independent research organization based in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Richardson noted that Scientology, far more than any other new religious movement, has been targeted by anti-cult activists. ”There is really a lot at stake in terms of the right of minority religions to practice their faith and even exist in some countries,” Richardson said.
But, Melton said, Scientology’s tactics have given them a black eye. ”They have a tendency to fight until they win and to try and punish their opponents,” he said.
This story ran on page B01 of the Boston Globe on 12/09/97.
© Copyright 1997 Globe Newspaper Company.
Published in the New York Times December 21, 1997
By DOUGLAS FRANTZ
Leaving her home in Boston one morning early this month, Therese Minton was shocked to find her husband’s photograph on fliers stuck to cars and trees in their Beacon Hill neighborhood. Beneath the photo was text that began: “The face of religious bigotry. Your neighbor Bob Minton is not all that he seems.”
A few nights later, as children arrived for the birthday party of one of the Mintons’ two young daughters, three Scientologists picketed quietly outside the home, handing out the same flier.
And the same night of his daughter’s party, Minton was among about 40 anti-Scientologists marching in front of the church’s spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, Fla., to mark the second anniversary of a Scientologist’s death, for which the protesters blamed the church.
These are among the latest skirmishes in an escalating war between the Church of Scientology and Robert S. Minton Jr., a retired investment banker, who has spent $1.25 million to finance some of the church’s most outspoken critics. Minton became a dedicated foe of the church after learning of what he considered its heavy-handed efforts to silence the critics.
The battleground in this conflict is varied, running from the streets of Boston and Clearwater to the Internet, and its oratory is a clear illustration of the fervor on both sides.
In addition to the fliers, the church has private investigators digging through Minton’s past, and Minton says he suspects that two men he saw following his school-age daughters twice in October were church operatives, though he says he has no proof.
“I realize that these are the tactics that this church uses to try to intimidate people it can’t control,” Minton said. “They do intimidate me. I’m not a total fool. But I’m not going to walk away either.”
Church officials vehemently denied authorizing anyone to follow Minton’s children and said that he made up those incidents to get press attention. But they acknowledged picketing his house and using private investigators to examine his background. They said both steps were legal and necessary.
“Sometimes it requires aggressive litigation and investigation to uncover the depths of the nefarious plots that have been attempted to destroy Scientology,” said Michael J. Rinder, a director of the Church of Scientology International.
Rinder and other church officials questioned Minton’s motives and contended that his actions and those of the people he is helping constitute hate crimes that would not be tolerated against another religion.
“The people that we know of whom Minton has funded have expressed their intentions to destroy the Church of Scientology, not merely to ‘criticize,”‘ Rinder said. “If he wants to fund it, fine. He will have to live with the bigotry he foments and be accountable for the harm he enables to occur.”
In a letter to Minton last month, a church lawyer demanded that he stop financing opponents of Scientology and warned that his actions had “crossed the threshold of legality.”
After consulting his own lawyers, Minton said he was told that he had done nothing illegal. He said he remained determined to continue his financial campaign.
Minton seems an unlikely participant in this battle over the nature and practices of Scientology. He retired in 1992, at age 46, after earning a fortune trading in the debts of Third World countries. He and his wife had planned a quiet life with their two daughters. He is an assistant Little League coach and is active in raising money for his daughters’ private school.
Minton said he had never heard of Scientology until the spring of 1995 when he learned of the church’s activities through the Internet. Although he said he did not question Scientology’s beliefs, he said he objected to its treatment of some members and its efforts to silence critics on the Internet.
“The more I learned about the Church of Scientology,” he said, “the more I couldn’t believe that this organization existed in the United States.”
What Minton said particularly struck him as excessive was a series of court-authorized raids by church lawyers and U.S. marshals on private homes in 1995. Computers and related material were confiscated from former Scientologists who had published high-level church scriptures on the Internet. The raids were part of copyright-infringement suits filed by the church against the former members.
Though Scientology disseminates much of its voluminous scripture to the public, certain high-level documents describing its religious techniques are copyrighted and protected by extensive security. The church won a $2,500 judgment against one person whose home was raided and preliminary injunctions to stop publication in the other cases.
Scientologists believe that people live many lifetimes and accumulate many traumas. They believe that counseling courses, known as auditing, can clear away those old traumas and help Scientologists lead more productive lives. Church members often pay substantial fees for the sessions, which has generated debate about the church’s mission.
In the spring of 1996, Minton posted a $360,000 reward on the Internet for information leading to the revocation of the tax exemption that Scientology received in 1993 after a two-year inquiry by the Internal Revenue Service determined that it was a bona fide church. The reward expired unclaimed that fall, but by then Minton was committed.
“He’s a man of principle and a very tenacious person,” said Robert P. Smith, a Boston financier, who worked with Minton on many business deals.
Over the objections of his wife and former business associates, Minton decided to finance some of the most vocal and persistent opponents of Scientology. He lent $440,000 to a former Scientologist who has been trying for a decade to collect a civil judgment he won against the church. Minton and his wife bought a $260,000 house on an island in Puget Sound and provided it to two former Scientologists who are persistent critics of the church.
Some recipients of Minton’s largesse operate Internet Web sites that are fiercely, and sometimes profanely, opposed to Scientology. Church officials say that some of those people have advocated violence against Scientologists.
But the payment that seems to have angered Scientology officials and lawyers most is the $100,000 that Minton gave recently to Kennan Dandar, a lawyer in Tampa, Fla., who represents the family of Lisa McPherson in a wrongful-death civil lawsuit against Scientology.
Ms. McPherson’s death two years ago after a 17-day stay under the care of Scientologists in a church-owned hotel in Clearwater has become a rallying point for church critics. It was her death that Minton and others marked with their protest march earlier this month, and he was among several participants whose neighborhoods had been posted with leaflets. The local prosecutor is expected to decide in the coming weeks whether anyone will be charged in connection with the death.
Minton, who said he promised to provide another $250,000 for the McPherson case, if necessary, said the money was intended to level the playing field between Dandar, who runs a small law practice with his brother, and the church, which has hired a small army of lawyers.
The judge in the McPherson case said Scientology’s lawyers were permitted to explore the motivation for the financing of the case. The church’s lawyers said Minton’s role taints the litigation by substituting Minton’s agenda for that of the McPherson estate.
“This is no longer a case about Lisa McPherson,” said Laura L. Vaughan, a church lawyer. “It is an improper attempt to put the entire religion on trial.”
Dandar said that he contacted the Florida Bar Association before accepting the $100,000 and was told it was permissible as long as the family approved it and Minton did not control any aspect of the case. An ethics officer with the bar group said in an interview that Dandar’s interpretation was correct.
But church officials see Minton as the latest in a long line of people who have unfairly attacked Scientology since its creation in 1954.
J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion, an independent research group in Santa Barbara, Calif., said Scientology had probably received the most persistent criticism of any church in America in recent years. But he said the Scientologists bear some of the responsibility.
“They don’t get mad, they get even,” Melton said. “They turn critics into enemies and enemies into dedicated warriors for a lifetime.”
German government official Ursula Caberta made a visit to Clearwater, Florida in July of 2000. This was her first trip to Scientology’s Mecca and she was in for a shock. From her arrival at the airport to her hasty departure, Scientology made her life difficult.
It started when she landed at the Tampa airport. I went along with Bob Minton, Stacy Brooks and our attorney John Merritt to greet Ursula and bring her back to her hotel. When we arrived at the airport, we discovered that Scientology’s PR man, Al Buttnor, had assembled a team of Scientologists to be there when Ursula arrived. They were grouped together, getting briefed by Buttnor when we arrived but scattered when they saw us appear.
We knew there was going to be some action on Scientology’s part. Stacy talked to the airport police to warn them that things might get wacky. In my video, you can see Buttnor stepping in to assure the police that there would be no problem. However, when the plane landed, the Scientologists leaped into action and started shouting slurs at Ursula. The police escorted us out of the airport safely although some of the Scientologists trailed us all along the way.
How did Scientology know when Ursula was arriving? They have Scientologists working at the airlines and can call and find out our every move. They also knew where Ursula was staying. I drove Ursula to the hotel that night because Bob and Stacy needed to get back and be with Tory Christman who had just left Scientology days before and had turned to the LMT for help. So they went back to Tory and I drove Ursula to the hotel on Clearwater Beach.
We arrived at the hotel to discover Scientology had called the hotel and canceled her room. The place was sold out and there was no other room to be had. Ursula had just flown in from Germany, it was after midnight and suddenly she had no place to stay. Needless to say, she understandably wasn’t very happy. I called Bob and Stacy and they found her a room at another hotel in town and we eventually got her settled in for her stay.
But it wasn’t over. Scientology took the opportunity to sue Ursula and drag her into deposition. She was forced to answer questions about her work overseeing Scientology in Hamburg. This, along with all the insanity that was going on on the streets of Clearwater cut her stay short. She did a press conference at the LMT, did some media and then returned home. The German press covered her trip pretty extensively as you can see below.
A vacation to Florida turns into a horror trip for a Scientology critic
“Nazi go home”, shout Scientologists
By Hugo Stamm
August 11, 2000
Ursula Caberta, Director of the Hamburg Agencies’ Work Group on Scientology, did not believe her eyes and ears when she arrived at the airport in Tampa, Florida. About 50 Scientologists were shouting “Nazi go home” at her, as proved by video tape recordings. The Hubbard adherents were also holding up signs in the air which said the same thing. “How the Scientologists learned of my arrival in Florida is a mystery to me.” Florida is the location of an international Scientology headquarters.
The psycho-terrorism continued at her hotel. “They followed every move I made,” said Caberta of the Hamburg SPD administration, who is involved with Scientology as a result of her office. Nevertheless she still met with American Scientology critics. The Scientologists’ attorneys took their revenge with an operation of a curious kind. They shoved a court summons under her hotel door. The attorneys had managed to motivate a judge to order an immediate deposition. “It was a five-hour hearing like the Stasi used to have,” stated Caberta. A German Scientology attorney had traveled from Munich for the occasion.
Lawsuit for Damages
The operation was rounded out with a lawsuit for damages from a Scientology-affiliated businessman who demanded 75,000 dollars. The businessman claimed Caberta ruined a major contract for him with her information work. “It has become painfully clear to me why the Scientologists are able to operate unhindered in the USA,” said Caberta, “They can take care of any critic they want by using these court and legal proceedings.”
The German Consul General urged Caberta to depart ahead of schedule because he was concerned about further actions from the Scientologists. Caberta didn’t have to think it over long: “Unbelievable what they can do in the USA with tourists,” she said. “And of all countries, this is the one which regularly accuses Germany of violating human rights because we dare to talk about Scientologists.” She lost her faith in the American legal system.
Juerg Stettler, spokesman from Scientology, defended Scientology’s action by saying that Caberta held a press conference and wanted to organize a demonstration in front of the Scientology buildings. He said that Caberta had provoked the reaction, the more so since various Scientologists had taken refuge from her in the USA. Those people, he said, were allergic to Caberta and would consider her now becoming active there as impudence.
US – Scientologists with Caberta – Hatred and Insults
One week in Clearwater (Florida) – Ursula Caberta, head of the Scientology Task Force of the Ministry of the Interior, will not forget it soon.
The reason is obvious: Clearwater is one of the headquarters of this controversial Psychosect, and Caberta visited there to support opponents of the organization and to inform about her work in Germany. Resistance was to be expected. But that it would turn out so bad, was not even expected by this trouble-seasoned lady from Hamburg.
Her arrival at the airport of Tampa in Florida was already impressive. Around 50 Scientologists expected Caberta screaming “Go back to Germany” and “Nazi go home.” A German-speaking Scientologist shouted “You are a Murderer!” Only under the protection of police escort and through a back door could Caberta leave the airport.
Even the former Scientologist Stacy Brooks and US businessman Bob Minton, who had invited Caberta, declared not to have yet witnessed such outbreak of hatred. Both are used to a variety of threats and pressures from the so-called Scientology Secret Service OSA which has its central headquarters in Clearwater.
Millionaire Minton not only supports the family of the ex-scientologist Lisa McPherson in their investigations on her mysterious death, his Lisa-McPherson-Trust already represents a sort of “institutionalized opposition” which to-date has been unknown in the United States.
Caberta also was unexpectedly confronted with an incredible interrogation by three Scientology-lawyers to which she was called by means of legal documents shoved under her hotel room door. Although she could not contribute anything to the McPherson case, she was interrogated for five hours. While keeping details confidential, she regards this as a “demonstration of power to put her down.”
Only the former Mayor of Clearwater, Mr. Gabriel Cazares, had embraced her and symbolically handed her the golden keys of the city of Clearwater with the words: “Most people are glad you are here.” Then he apologized for the molestations.
Following the advice of the German Consul, Caberta left Clearwater one day earlier than planned: you might not know what else could happen…
Horror Trip to Florida
August 7, 2000
Ursula Caberta, Director of the Work Group on Scientology in the Hamburg Interior Agency, had to leave the USA in a hurry. Caberta had wanted to spend a one-week vacation in Florida during which time she met with Scientology opponents Stacy Brooks and Bob Minton and took part in a press conference on the practices of the psycho-concern. Then she unexpectedly left the country one day earlier than planned.
The journey to the Sunshine State had turned out to be a horror trip: Caberta had no sooner landed at the airport in Tampa than she was received by Scientologists screaming “Nazi go home”; she was subsequently followed at every turn.
Then German software businessman Hubert Heller, who lives in the USA, sued Caberta for 75,000 dollars in damages. Allegedly a major contract from German company POS Partner Gmbh had slipped through his fingers after the company had presented him with a so-called “sect filter” – a “security statement” (Caberta) in which the signer asserts that he does not operate according to the “technology” of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
The German consul general in Florida urged that she leave: Caberta had had a summons to a deposition by Scientology attorneys shoved under her hotel room door. It said she would have to sit through a five-hour hearing in the business’s center in Clearwater.
It had to do with the case of Lisa McPherson, who died under unexplained circumstances in the USA, to which Caberta said she could not make a statement. She left the country in secret “before anything worse happened.” Caberta lost her belief in the American legal system. She had never experienced anything like that before. “One hears about that only in dictatorships.”
On January 20th Robert Minton passed away due to a heart attack. He was one of the first people to help me when I left, and this is a video in honor of him, and wishing each person who knew him will light a candle to help him on his way. To Scientology who will cheer about this, realize that is one more thing proving how non-religious you are. No matter friend or foe, one should not cheer about a person’s death, imnsho. To those who had upsets with Bob, I hope you can let it go, and celebrate the love you once had for this amazing man. To all of his family and friends, my love to you all. PEACE.
2 weeks out, me with Stacy and Bob in Boston, after I’d told her “I am NOT going to picket, or make any videos” 2 weeks before.