Scientology's Cover Story for Harassment: "We're Making a Documentary!"

Thumbnail image for SquirrelTech.jpg
Something tells us Ken Burns doesn't work this way.
We've been covering Marty Rathbun's remarkable experiences in South Texas with rapt attention: there's no question that his ongoing battle with his former employer, Scientology leader David Miscavige, is becoming the biggest thing to happen to L. Ron Hubbard's controversial religion since the 2005 freakout of Tom Cruise.

Rathbun was one of the highest-ranking executives in Scientology when he left the organization in 2004. He then pretty much disappeared, eventually moving to the Corpus Christi area to fish and relax. Then, suddenly, in 2009, Rathbun began speaking out about his former employer in the form of a blog, and by speaking to reporters. Since then, he's been under almost constant surveillance by members of Scientology and others hired by the church.

As we watched Rathbun take on Scientology and pay for it by being filmed and watched, we couldn't help wonder, was it really smart for him to be living in a part of the country without major media?

Even large news organizations in big cities tend to be wary about covering Scientology. And when they do take on the church, they tend to do it in one big take-out piece and then go pretty much silent.

(I realized that Scientology actually counts on this to be the case based on something Kendrick Moxon, a Scientology attorney, once said to me. He was confused and angry that my newspaper at the time, New Times Los Angeles, kept writing investigative stories about the church. "You've already done your story about us," he said to me. I thought it was a revealing moment. And in general, he's right. The New Yorker, for example, just uncorked one of the best exposes of Scientology of all time. But you can bet that the magazine won't write about the church again in our lifetimes.)

If media in big cities can be skittish about Scientology, what sort of local media attention could Rathbun hope for in sleepy Ingleside on the Bay, Texas?

Well, we got an answer this week in a big way.

As we wrote earlier, the Ingleside Index reported this week that the small town's city council had unanimously supported Mayor Howard Gillespie to pass an ordinance that would require Scientology's goon squad to register as a film crew or pay a fine. It was largely a symbolic gesture, but one that Rathbun said he appreciated wholeheartedly.

And last night, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times showed that it wasn't going to let a big story in its backyard go unnoticed.

The Caller-Times is an E.W. Scripps daily whose previous claim to fame was breaking news of Vice President Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face in 2006.

Caller-Times reporter Mark Collette's piece about Rathbun and the Scientologists filming him is lengthy and well-researched -- Collette even traveled to California to track down some of the goon squad members who had come from there to watch Rathbun's movements.

Collette's piece is very well done, but what we found most amusing was Scientology's constant refrain that they were renting property near Rathbun's house, filming him from a paddle boat in a canal, and getting in his face on his porch with cameras strapped to their foreheads because -- get this -- they're making a "documentary."

Well, we're certainly the first to agree that Rathbun is worthy of attention. But how much b-roll footage of the man puttering around his bayside home or munching in local eateries do you really need?

No, it's clear that Scientology is keeping an eye on Rathbun for more sinister reasons. And the best authority on that may be Rathbun himself, who for years was Miscavige's enforcer.

"I helped create the monster," he candidly told Collette. "The policy is to make life so uncomfortable that the person gives up or shuts up."

At least now, Rathbun knows that Corpus Christi's local media, as modest as it may be, is all eyes and ears.


tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO

Click here to see all recent Scientology coverage at the Voice

Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard's organization:

The Larry Wollersheim Saga -- Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story -- How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection -- A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Robert Cipriano Case -- A Hellacious Example of Fair Game
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum -- The 'Crash' Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape -- 'Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle'
The Aaron Saxton Accusation -- Australia turns up the heat on Scientology
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation -- Scientology's former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross -- Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
A Church Myth Debunked -- Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back -- Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack -- The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
A Scientologist Excommunicated -- The Michael Fairman SP Declaration
The Richard Leiby Operation -- Investigating a reporter's divorce to shut him up
The Hugh Urban Investigation -- An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology's past
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh -- A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link
Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology -- A masterful telling of Scientology's history
The Western Spy Network Revealed? -- Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige
Scientology's Enemies List -- Are You On It?
Inside Inside Scientology -- An interview with author Janet Reitman
Scientology and the Nation of Islam -- Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman!


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34 comments
Dumpopotamus
Dumpopotamus

If they were on my front porch, I'd just turn my garden hose on them.  Oops, were those your cameras?

Joe Lynn
Joe Lynn

As 'Fair Game' goes, the 'Squirrel-Busters' caper is pretty tame.  Anyone who has dealt with the kind of attempted intimidation practiced by the 'Church' has war stories that make Marty's travails look like kid gloves; which they are.  Under Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder the 'Office of Special Affairs' conducted operations that went well into illegal methods, in the certainty that they were so bizarre and insane as to be incredible.

Naturally, their preference was for people with as little access to media and finances as possible, but even that didn't stop them when it was about people like Ida Camburn and Bob Minton.  But, it wasn't only high profile 'critics' who were subjected to Ron's prescription for 'shuddering into silence'; literally dozens and possibly hundreds experienced worse than Rathbun and Rinder.  At the hands of Rathbun and Rinder.

About the only notable twist here, besides the 'kid gloves' approach, is the addition of the keystone cops style uniforms and regalia. 

If I were Marty Rathbun and intent on getting my message out that 'I'm Scientology Enemy #1!' I'd even arrange for such silliness.

Come to think of it...

LocalSP1
LocalSP1

Ya know, ya just can't make this shit up. Squirrel Busters LMFAO. That loon John Allender is the best entertain value for the buck,anywhere! I wish they would come to my town, we could use a good laugh around here.

Squirrel Busters hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

subgenius
subgenius

Marty fails to use simple laws, like stalking, to stop this, I think he thinks he can out-failtech them.Here's another good one Marty, free of charge: UNITED STATES CODE 

TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE PART I - CRIMES CHAPTER 13 - CIVIL RIGHTS 

§ 241. Conspiracyagainst rights

If two or more personsconspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidateany inhabitant of any State, Territory, orDistrict in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured tohim by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of hishaving so exercised the same…they shall be fined not more than $10,000 orimprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results, they shallbe subject to imprisonment for any term of years or for life.Marty? Marty?

candace6
candace6

The cult that couldn't shoot straight is also claiming that the goon squad is doing this strictly on their own, not on orders from the "church"  (Cuz ya know, the tiny terror would never order such a thing, he being one of the "most ethical" and sane people on the planet).

Scientologee
Scientologee

This is "Fair Game", period. No, that policy is still very alive and well. What so boggles my mind, is that the more they push, the faster they are coming apart. Why cant they see that? Because they dont really care about man, or his betterment. This is a cult, through and through. Don't doubt it. Oh, and anyone wanna start "Cult Busters"? Hmm, Look for my new youtube station soon.

Marcabian
Marcabian

"But you can bet that the magazine won't write about the church again in our lifetimes."

I can only pray that you're wrong!

Use A Mirror
Use A Mirror

Mary,

Can you put up a mirror or something that will directly reflect the sun back onto their cameras? I always hate it, when I get blinded by s/g reflecting the sunlight.

Good luck

Law Abiding Citizen
Law Abiding Citizen

Marty should just have them picked up and charged with stalking and harassment, he has more than enough video evidence to prove it. Their excuse of a documentary does not allow them to circumvent the laws regarding a person's right to privacy & the pursuit of happiness in their own home. If it does, then any stalker could just pick up a video recorder, and say he's making a documentary while he stalks and harasses them.

After charging the squirrlbusters, and having them convicted in a criminal case, then I would go after ANY personal assets these squirrelbusters have, their $, their homes, their cars., their pensions,......make an example of them for the rest of OSA "wan-na-bes", and show them they are personally liable!

I'm guessing Miscavige's army of volunteers would shrink like an ice cube in the hot sun.

Lronhubbardfuckface
Lronhubbardfuckface

An American judge called $cientology a dangerous terrorist organization. So, why would scientology have a MASSIVE AMOUNT OF PROPANE stored around the country with interests in propane assets? One reason, for bombs, plain and simple. Its just another creepy-ass loophole $cientolgy found in the law to exploit. 

Yap Yaphank
Yap Yaphank

I posted a similar comment in a previous post on this subject, but I think it's worth repeating.

As I see it, Marty and some from the town should let the Texas State Film Commission office know that a renegade, out-of-State "production company" is creating havoc and upsetting residents with its unprofessional practices. The Film Office's website can be easily found via simple search. One goal of the office to establish a film-friendly environment within the State and this kind of thing is completely antithetical to that. It's just this sort of thing that harms the environment for all legitimate productions and sours the community to the business.

Torychristman
Torychristman

Congratulations to you, Tony Ortega! Years ago I gave Tony an award for courage, when HE was speaking out, exposing the abuses of the "church" of $cientology, way before most. You still remain top on my list. Thank you, Tony----for ALL that you do. Happy 4th of July week-end, too :) :) Tory Christman (aka: Magoo!)

Ghost of Charlie
Ghost of Charlie

     Google the names of the goons associated with the squirrelbusters especially the trio of John Allender-Mark Warlick-Richard Hirst (Name+Scientology) those three in particular generate a whole host of "dirty business on behalf of the cult" such as harassment-intimidation-cover ups-threats-stalking and more against well know targets like Bob Minton,Shawn Lawnsdale and Tommy Gorman    A treasure trove of dirty deeds by this trio for a savvy journalist,or better yet law enforcement.loads of eyewitness accounts-and entanglements with law enforcement.  quite a dossier of criminal behavior from this trio of cult morons

Theresa Defino
Theresa Defino

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Isn't karma a bitch. 

mirele
mirele

Wouldn't it be funny if some tourists started following around the Squirrel Busters as one of the sights to see in Ingleside? (Of course, the locals want the Squirrel Busters to leave, I'm sure.)

Maxchampion
Maxchampion

Tony, Thanks for giving the local guys some coverage. It is a very nice article indeed.

Fredric L. Rice
Fredric L. Rice

Scientology is organized crime first and foremost. This is what Scientology is, what it does. It has maybe at most some 40,000 remaining customers world wide thanks in park to the ARSCC and then Anonymous whose continued efforts since 1994 have managed to educate people around the world so the point that the crime syndicate finds it impossible to find new suckers, rubes, and marks with any money worth rooking and swindling them out of.

Look at these fucking insane crime bosses and shit pies that still do what David Miscavige orders them to do in some kind of idiot notion that committing RICO predicate acts against people will some how bring back the customers and stop the massive exposures of what the crime syndicate does -- ironically proving again and again that Scientology is organized crime.

PamEllis
PamEllis

Re: The scientologists following Marty Rathbun are making a documentary.

I would love to believe this as I bet it would be very entertaining.  One could have a drinking game where every time the terms "criminal", "apostate" or "squirrel" are uttered, one takes a shot.  Of course alcohol poisoning would likely result.

But I have seen scientology "documentary" crews at protests in Hollywood, GoldBase and at the Center for Inquiry in Hollywood when several exes like Mark Headley, Laura Decrescenzo and Jeff Hawkins spoke out on Feb 2010.  I have yet to see their completed works.  (Although to be fair, the Freedom Magazine ( a scientology PR organ) crew were scared away from the Center for Inquiry event by Bryan Seymour and his Today Tonight TV crew from Australia)

Scientology used to post stills they took of protesters on the forum section their Religious Freedom Watch website.  But they took it down over a year ago when it started to either be embarrassing or put them in a bad legal light.  I miss that site.  They never did get my name right on it.

sizzle8
sizzle8

And another foot bazooka for scientologists.

LocalSP1
LocalSP1

Don't scare off the loons. They are too much fun to watch. I haven't laughed so much in ages.

jeffsdog
jeffsdog

liars!!  they don't do anything unless ordered by the scientology bosses.

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

Well, Marcabian, something might turn up in the Talk of the Town, or Scientology might get a mention in a feature story. But the NYer and others tend to stay away from a subject for a long time after taking it on, in particular one that involves so much lawyering and hassle. CNN, for example, went through immense hassle over its watered-down Anderson Cooper special last year. Seems to me Scientology counts on news orgs getting worn out during those experiences. So pubs like the St. Pete Times that keep coming back to the well tend to be rare. Of course, I'd love to be proved wrong, and actually, Reitman's book is going to force a lot of pubs that normally don't mention Scientology at all to take it on at least in a book review. Could be an interesting few weeks.

catheyjames
catheyjames

Great idea. Somebody send them these articles. Google: Corpus Christi Film Commission

MarkStark
MarkStark

Get your photo taken with a nut in a squirrel busters t-shirt. Maybe not.

Rename the town: Squirrelbusters-on-the-Bay. Organize neighborhood groups to find the pods, before it is too late.

PDelaney
PDelaney

There is a "Squirrel Busters" crew in Los Angeles.  A group of three or four Scientologists with the cameras last week showed up at the homes to harass several people and lied (even to neighbors and locals) -- they used that coverup excuse, that they were making a documentary. The Scientology squad masking as a film crew even went to Hollywood actor Michael Fairman's home also a couple other people including a Disney actress who took courses decades ago. The LAPD was called.  An law enforcement officer paid one of the "Squirrel Busters" -- a Scientology OT 8 named Ed Bryan who owns a kitchen degrease company in Burbank -- a visit.  Crazy stuff.  It is organized crime.

sommerville
sommerville

Like Tony said, it's all there in the headline to this article:  Scientology's Cover Story for Harassment: "We're Making a Documentary!"

They make up covers and deception daily.  The whole pretense of help is deception. That's why there is so much confusion on the issue. People think, why, they do such good stuff. That's only a thin veneer front that is covering up big time crime and human rights abuse. Scientology is so ill, they have no conscience or self-awareness that the blatant illogics are becoming obvious.   Like the guy n Twitter who tweets David Miscavige is a human rights champion, then the very next tweet does the chilling malice of tweeting someon "is it true  (Targeted Enemy)  is a pedophile?"   Malicious to the max! And coyly.  They know the loopholes of staying just inside the law to do dirty work. They have fleeced billions of dollars and infiltrated government.

What's pitiful is artists like David Carradine or Martin Kove who got suckered in to doing the L Ron Hubbard audio books.  They don't see beyond the job and paycheck and don't realize even L Ron Hubbard's name is being used by an organization that orchestrates "Squirrel Busters"  and other deceptive, socially destruction crimes.

It's time to stop this in the US.

subgenius
subgenius

I know, I know....its like a train-wreck...don't want to be in one, but can't look away....also like the NOI/Co$ alliance.....never interrupt your adversaries when they're making a mistake....even funnier/more ironic with Marty since he pulled it in by doing the same to others for 20+ years....not only fun to watch, but Co$ is putting on a display for the world to see....wish I could delete my post now....damn....

jeffsdog
jeffsdog

it is fair game and they lie pretending about some documetary bulll! ...people, look up "fair game scientology".   they lie so easily.   come on people! the poison fake criminal snake is there, we see it. 

Guest
Guest

Documentary?  A remake of Alfred Hitchock's "the Flying Squirrels", maybe?

I think the town should recoup some of their expenses  these loonies are costing the residents in tight budget times.  Invite the whole "crew" to come on down, set up some benches, port-o-potties,  sell tickets and refreshments, like koolaid and toasted nuts.

Speaking of what this crazy cult is costing All of us,  I think it's time each of us who's been harrassed (even through our mailboxes), been harmed in any way by this cult, we each get $1,000 tax deduction, for each instance, until our  IRS Commissioner get's honest, reveals their secret special handshakes, and  whips out the "No Tax Exemption/ No Religious label for You" stamp.  It's the least he could do, and I mean that sincerely.

jeffsdog
jeffsdog

somebody tell bruce boxleitner and martin kove!  how could they work for a front group for  evil dark malice crap man?!

PamEllis
PamEllis

Well...Re: David Carradine.  He did the audio books (and live readings at ASI in Hollywood) as well as Celebrity Centre appearances not so much because he was suckered into it.  His 5th (and final wife) Annie is a scientologist as well as his daughter Calista from his 1st wife Donna. So he did lots of events for scientology, but I doubt he ever wanted to be a member and give up doing stuff you are not supposed to do if your are a scientologist.

Celebrities get a pass on disconnection if they promote the cult.

I don't know what the deal with Martin Kove is.  Both he and his son do live readings of Hubbard's pulp fiction. 

Or Bruce Boxleitner for that matter.  He has done the audio books and live readings as well.

jeffsdog
jeffsdog

had no idea david carradine's wife was a scientologist, or is daughter.  tey don't do disconnection if a name can be used.   prolly with martin kove and bruce boxleitner  ASI people butter them up, admire & blow smoke up their vanity.      do they know that the scientology people do harassment and the defamation discredit stalking stuff?  the church front is good at pretending they are positive people.  :-((   someonbody warn bruce boxleitner!!! and melissa gilbert!

mjm
mjm

still think the cult offed David Carradine...

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