Steve Hall was one of the main players in the Scientology horror show depicted in the Sunday, August 2, issue of The St. Petersurg Times story, Strength in Their Numbers: More Church of Scientology Defectors Come Foreward With Accounts of Abuse.
Steve Hall replayed his memory of a meeting when Miscavige grabbed the heads of two church executives and knocked them together. One came away with a bloody ear.
A NEW AWARENESS
Like countless college kids in the mid 1970s, Steve Hall was searching for meaning in life. He stumbled across a personality test he picked up a couple of years earlier at a Rolling Stones concert and stuck in a drawer.
He sent it in and got a call. “I asked the girl what Scientology was, and she said it’s a way you can become more aware. … She summed up everything that I wanted at the time.”
Hall got involved with the church to the point that his mother hired a “deprogrammer” from Los Angeles to come to Dallas and get her son out. Hall says he threatened to kill the guy if he ever contacted his mother again.
In the mid 1980s, Hall landed what he imagined would be his dream assignment: A position living and working at the 500-acre “Int” base, east of Los Angeles, home to top church executives and Golden Era Productions, the church’s media and publications division.
But it was no dream.
“There was this incredible atmosphere of people not being in communication. People seemed afraid to speak to each other. … Nobody was laughing for the most part. It was very somber and solemn. … That did not at all seem in keeping with anything I’d ever experienced with Scientology because Hall joined the church marketing unit in 1987, which brought him into more frequent contact with Miscavige, who holds the title Chairman of the Board, or COB. Halleverywhere else I’d been it was just the reverse. People were laughing and joking.” said it was a shock the first time he saw Miscavige attack an executive, Ray Mithoff. The second time was like something out of a cartoon.
Hall says Miscavige came up behind two seated executives — Marc Yager and Guillaume Lesevre — grabbed their heads and banged them together. Then he ground them against each other. Lesevre had blood coming out of his ear.
Then came the time when Hall and about 20 others were summoned to the Religious Technology Center headquarters. “You don’t get called up to Building 50 because it’s some good news or something fun. It was always like everybody would literally be in terror. You were supposed to sprint from wherever you were up to Building 50, which is way the hell up the hill.”
The group took their seats, the chairs in rows, spaced about 2 to 3 feet apart in all directions. Huffing and puffing, Hall said he worked to keep his breathing under control, so he wouldn’t get singled out.
“You end up waiting a long time. Nobody f—— breathes, no one says anything. It’s dead quiet. You could hear a pin drop. Everybody’s just … waiting. Then finally COB walks in.
“He starts walking amongst us. Never says a word. Just stops and glares at each person. Sometimes he stops and sometimes he doesn’t stop. When he got in front of me he stopped, he looked at me, I looked back at him, careful not to seem to be resisting or whatever.
“He took a step forward. He stopped. He looked back at me again. He backed up, he looked at me even closer. He said, ‘He’s out-ethics. That son of a b—- is out-ethics,’ ” he’s breaking the rules of Scientology.
“Then he walked on, he walked down the aisle, looked at a couple other people, turned to start going down the next aisle right where Marc Yager was sitting on the end. And then suddenly, without warning, he starts slapping the bejesus out of Marc Yager, open-handed.”
There were as many as 10 head slaps. Yager didn’t resist, just put his arms up and took it.
For Hall, the last straw came in November 2003. Hall wrote scripts for Scientology videos and had been assigned to work under Mike Rinder, the church’s chief spokesman. Hall says he had creative differences with Miscavige, which was a problem, because nobody is to question the COB.
Miscavige came by to see an edited video. “He ordered Mike and me stand shoulder to shoulder. … So Rinder and I are pressed up against each other, and right up in front of us is DM … and he says, ‘Play the video.’ “
The video over, Miscavige drew close. “We’re standing there sort of at attention. He looks at me, he looks at Rinder. He looks at me, he looks back at Rinder. And then suddenly, with violence, he flashed his arms up and grabbed Mike Rinder’s head and body-slammed his head into the cherry wood cabinets.
“He lifted Mike Rinder nearly off of his feet and smashed his head into the wall, and he banged his head into the wall three times, just BANG, BANG, BANG!”
A dozen others watched. “But everybody’s afraid to move, because anything you did would be like, ‘Are you making me wrong?’ Don’t make COB wrong. So if you showed any kind of reaction or upset, you would be, ‘making COB wrong.’ “
Miscavige left the room. “Rinder stood there with his hair mussed, his shirttail out and red marks on his face.”
“It so could have been me,” Hall said. “And that was the message I got was that you’re next.”
Rinder said Miscavige abused him so often that his recollections of specific attacks sometimes run together. Asked about Hall’s account, he said, “That happened more than once.”
Though long disillusioned with his life in the Sea Org, Hall said he didn’t want to leave his wife, who was also a staffer. He finally accepted that he had to give up her and everything else.
His last day, church security went through his belongings and confiscated photos of his wife. They videotaped a lawyer posing questions and Hall taking blame for any problems he had with the church. He also promised never to sue the church.
“I had one last goodbye with my wife. … They told me she doesn’t want to go with you and it was her decision, we didn’t influence her in any way. They said you could talk … they led us to rooms.”
In tears, they hugged. “She told me all the rooms were bugged. She whispered all the rooms were bugged and they could probably hear it.”