Ex-Scientology story #62, defrauded by the “hard Sell”

The Ex-Files, Tales of Greed.

In 1978 Peggy Bear was unfortunate to run into Scientology in NY.  She was impressed by what she heard of Hubbard, “I read information at Scientology Churches in New York concerning L. Ron Hubbard.  Church members and Hubbard books claimed Hubbard was a nuclear physicist, world traveller and miracle worker.”

The minions of Hubbard were adept at finding out how much money a mark has as she soon found out, “I was informed by these men they knew of money left to me by my deceased husband which I had not yet forfeited to Scientology.  They screamed, yelled and harassed me to turn over this money to Flag in Clearwater, Florida.  They showed me on paper, that by paying $15,000 additional to Celebrity Center in New York and more than $25,000 to Flag in Clearwater, I would finally have “peace of mind”.

Her visit to Clearwater, flag base to the cult members, didn’t impress her,”I visited the “Flag Base” in Clearwater, Florida for a few days during 1979, and was shocked to discover how filthy the headquarters of Scientology was.  In fact, dirty, disheveled children ran about unsupervised.  Finally, in August 1978, I left Scientology after being defrauded of more than $33,000 and depressed at the possibility of blackmail or extortion from their Guardian’s Office, i.e., secret police, of information concerning my innermost thoughts given to them in auditing.”

This is another one of those big wins in Scientology we hear so much about, to read the rest of her story go here: http://www.naderlibrary.com/cia.scientologyclearwater.exh59.htm

Getting money by any means has always been the number one priority for Scientology.  Read here about the case of Raul Lopez, a handicapped men bled dry by the cult.  

Brained: Mentally impaired Raul Lopez was $1.7 million richer as the result of an accident settlement — until he joined the Church of Scientology.

By Ron Russell
December 21, 2000

The ostrich eggs should have been a tip-off. But Raul Lopez wasn’t worried, even though he had paid $30,000 for two of them. The eggs were going to make him rich. After all, his lawyer, Brent Jones, whom he trusted more than his own mother, had convinced him. Jones came highly regarded as a member of the Church of Scientology, the Los Angeles- based church in which Lopez had invested his hope of getting cured of irreversible brain trauma resulting from an auto accident. Never mind that medical experts had concluded that little could be done about his nervous tremor and inability to reason and interact with others the way he did before a big-rig crossed the center line of a Ventura County highway and slammed head-on into his pickup truck in 1985.

Without exception, doctors advised him to adapt to his limitations and move on with his life. But that was before Lopez, 34, stumbled upon a Scientology booth at a Ventura County flea market. The Scientologists, he concluded, had what he wanted. “They were going to make me whole again,” he recalls once believing, referring to the technology as well as the expensive training known as auditing that are the mainstays of Scientology’s late founder, science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

According to attorneys Dan Leipold and Ford Greene, Lopez also had something the Scientologists wanted: $1.7 million that was their client’s share of the court settlement stemming from the accident. As part of a potentially explosive case wending its way toward trial in Los Angeles superior court — in which L.A. Police Commission President Gerald Chaleff is among the battery of lawyers representing the church – – Lopez’s attorneys contend that the church and individuals associated with it swindled their brain-damaged client out of up to $1.3 million. “They picked him clean, and we have the documentation to prove it,” Leipold says.

For their part, Scientology lawyers deny that there was any wrongdoing, portraying Lopez as a willing participant during years of involvement in the church. Robert Amidon, a Burbank attorney who is among the legal team representing the church, calls Lopez’s claim “bogus,” characterizing the case (scheduled for trial next May) as an attack on religious expression: “It’s as if Lopez [were Catholic and] were to say, “Please stop all confessionals in the Catholic Church because it hurts my brain to listen to the priest.'”

Regardless of the outcome, the case provides a rare glimpse into the controversial church’s internal operations and associated commercial enterprises, including alleged hardball tactics it is accused of employing to promote Hubbard’s teachings for maximum profit. Critics, including former members, have long asserted that Scientology resembles a sprawling collection of business enterprises more than a religion and say it is controlled by an unincorporated paramilitary- like organization known as the Sea Organization, or Sea Org. “It’s a seamless structure that has made the enterprise of Scientology and its individual components almost impregnable and immune from liability judgments,” says Leipold, who has frequently battled the church in court. “We think this case is going to make that abundantly clear.”Leaving aside its structure and practice, which have prompted attempts at governmental intervention in France and Germany, Scientology beliefs have also fueled controversy.

Founded by Hubbard in 1952, Scientology teaches that people are immortal spiritual beings, called thetans, who were banished to earth some 75 million years ago by an evil galactic ruler named Xenu. A pulp fiction writer who had served in the Navy, Hubbard hit it big in 1950 by coming up with the concept of Dianetics, which he dubbed a modern science of mental health. Dianetics remains at the core of Scientology practice. One of its staples is a simplified lie detector called an E-meter, which is supposed to measure electrical changes in the skin while subjects discuss intimate details of their lives. Scientologists swear by it, among them actorsJohn Travolta, Tom Cruise, and Kirstie Alley, jazzman Chick Corea, and soul singer Isaac Hayes. Hubbard believed that unhappiness sprang from mental aberrations, called engrams, and that counseling sessions with the E-meter could help get rid of them. Scientologists refer to the extensive (and expensive) process of clearing the mind in order for this to occur as “auditing.” But it was another kind of auditing in the 1970s, conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, that raised suspicions that the church has had trouble dispelling. The IRS accused Hubbard of skimming millions of dollars from the church, laundering it through dummy corporations, and stashing it in Swiss bank accounts. What’s more, FBI raids on Scientology offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., uncovered plans to take over parts of the federal government.

Hubbard died before the case was adjudicated, but his wife and 10 other former church leaders, whom Scientology leaders have since portrayed as a rogue group within the church infrastructure, went to prison in the early 1980s after they were convicted of stealing government documents to cover up church activities. Since then, the church has been embroiled in numerous lawsuits, usually brought by former members claiming abuses, and has spent millions of dollars defending itself, often successfully. What makes the Lopez case different to most, his lawyers contend, is that not only did Lopez exhibit diminished capacity during years of surrendering huge sums to the church and its affiliated entities, but that his Scientology handlers were well aware of his condition after having obtained copies of his medical and psychiatric records.

One psychiatrist who examined Lopez after he was injured and reexamined him last year found that he was “damaged [by the accident] intellectually, damaged interpersonally, and damaged with regard to his emotionality.” Dr. Leonard Diamond’s report, a copy of which was obtained by New Times, concluded that the auditing Lopez received from the church provided “absolutely no benefit,” adding, “In fact, the data strongly point to the fact that these experiences have served to create additional disturbance so that [Lopez] has reached a point at which he is barely functioning.” Contends Greene, Lopez’s lawyer, “With Raul, it was like shooting fish in a barrel…. In a sense, [the Scientologists] passed him around the way the Hell’s Angels might pass around a teenage girl.”

By all accounts, Raul Lopez should be dead. After viewing what was left of his mangled pickup truck following the horrible early- morning collision in August 1985, which left him disabled, even his mother has a hard time reconciling how he survived. “[The truck] looked like a smashed soda can ready to recycle,” Alicia Lopez recalls. “That it never exploded was some kind of miracle.”

It took an emergency crew using the jaws of life more than an hour to extricate the unconscious Lopez from the wreckage. At the time, Lopez was 19 and had the world on a string. After graduating from Channel Islands High School in Oxnard the previous year, he had spent six months in naval training in San Diego, and had just enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserves at nearby Port Hueneme. With rugged good looks, he was popular and studious in high school, lettering in basketball and playing drums in the marching band. His career ambition was to be an architect or an engineer. But first, family members say, Lopez wanted to satisfy a long-held fascination with ships and the military. After coming home from San Diego, he took a job with a company that services swimming pools in order to save money for college in the fall. Lopez doesn’t remember the accident. His last precrash recollection is driving en route to an appointment to clean a pool near the community of Fillmore.

 

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Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm  Comments Off on Ex-Scientology story #62, defrauded by the “hard Sell”  
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