The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 21: Kendrick Moxon

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On August 5, we started a countdown that will give credit -- or blame -- to the people who have contributed most to the sad current state of Scientology. From its greatest expansion in the 1980s, the church is a shell of what it once was and is mired in countless controversies around the world. Some of that was self-inflicted, and some of it has come from outside. Join us now as we continue on our investigation of those people most responsible...


The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology

#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church


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Moxon
Kendrick Moxon is very good at his job.

The Scientologist and attorney is renowned for making the prospect of litigating against the church a very uncomfortable experience -- and he's been at that work for quite a long time.

Moxon goes back so far, before he was an attorney he was caught up in the government's crackdown on Scientology's "Guardian Office," which carried out what is still the largest illegal infiltration of federal agencies in this country's history. That covert operation, dubbed "Operation Snow White" by the GO, was a massive undertaking, an attempt to quietly break into government offices to steal documents that were unflattering to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. In 1977, four years after it began, the operation resulted in FBI raids in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, and 11 church officials ultimately pleaded guilty or were convicted of obstructing justice and other charges. One of the officials was L. Ron Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue.

Hubbard himself, like Moxon, was named an "unindicted co-conspirator," and wasn't prosecuted.

Moxon then was a legal affairs employee in the Guardian's Office. He went on to become a lawyer, and these days, he's known for how uncomfortable he can make a deposition.

"He has made a career out of being a pit bull for the church in the legal arena," Mike Rinder says.

Rinder was a longtime high-ranking member of Scientology and its chief spokesman before he left the organization in 2007. He also, at one time, oversaw the Office of Special Affairs, which replaced the Guardian's Office as the church's intelligence and covert operations wing. And his work made him intimately familiar with Moxon's role.

"He's been a lawyer for the church from the early 1980s. He teamed up with a guy named Tim Bowles to form 'Bowles and Moxon.' But effectively, they were in-house counsel," he says.

"He is very good at needling people in depositions, and being smarmy and trying to get under people's skin. That's what he's renowned for. To needle and antagonize people and to get them to say things they probably didn't want to say," Rinder adds.

So if he's good at what Scientology wants him to do, why is he on this list? Take it from someone who's dealt with the guy -- he's one of the chief reasons Scientology has such a nasty, litigious reputation, and one that hardly seems to fit the nature of a "church."

"Tony, I couldn't agree with you more," Rinder said when I shared those thoughts with him. "Moxon epitomizes in the court system what the Squirrel Busters epitomize on the streets. The only people who think what Moxon and the Squirrel Busters do is cool is themselves. Everyone else looks at them and says, what a bunch of morons."

I have an anecdote that may shed some further light on what it's like to work with Moxon.

In 1999, I wrote a story about Scientology's use of "fair game" on the attorney Graham Berry, about how Moxon in particular had convinced a man named Robert Cipriano to testify to disgusting things about Berry by procuring Cipriano a home, a car, and a job -- and I had the documents in Moxon's name to prove it.

Moxon had come personally to our newspaper offices to try and argue our editor and our attorney out of printing the story. But as my attorney pointed out, you really can't argue with documents. The story ran, and Moxon went away. Or so I thought.

Some time later, I heard from Gerry Armstrong. If you don't know Gerry's story, you should really take the time to look it up. At one point he was so trusted personally by L. Ron Hubbard, he had been assigned the job of compiling information for what would be an official biography of the church founder. Later, he ran afoul of the church, which hounded him and hunted him down. By the time I talked to him, Gerry was living in Canada and had been through the wringer.

But Gerry was as enthusiastic as ever, and he wanted me to see a whole box full of documents that he had lying around. And you know when Gerry said he had documents, they were probably pure gold. I told him that of course I wanted to see them. Could he copy a set and mail it to me? I told him I'd be happy to pay his costs.

Offering to pay his copying costs was just standard journalistic good manners. After Gerry told me how much he'd spent to copy the hundreds of pages and then mail them, I had the newspaper send him a check for what he'd spent -- I think it was around $80.

A few days later, I got a call from Kendrick Moxon.

I couldn't imagine why he'd be calling. And what he did say completely stunned me.

"Paying your sources for stories now, Ortega?"

The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I think I fumbled through a bluff -- "I don't know what you're talking about, Moxon," or some such. "Of course we don't pay for stories," I told him before I managed to get off the phone.

To this day, I don't know whether Moxon had a mole in my office, or someone checking Gerry's mail, or how he figured out that I'd sent Gerry a check -- which, again, I will point out was completely proper. But the intent was clear -- to creep me out, to make me feel uncomfortable with something that was actually wholly legitimate, and to make me paranoid. And Kendrick Moxon is very, very good at that.

I would be surprised if our readers didn't have Moxon anecdotes of their own. Please share!

Honorary Mention: I know that some of our readers will howl if I don't also mention Moxon's current law partner, Helena Kobrin, along with him in this countdown.

Kobrin certainly etched her name in Scientology-watching history with her notorious 1995 attempt to have the legendary Usenet newsgroup "alt.religion.scientology" shut down. That only made ARS an overnight sensation and helped attract free speech activists to become critics of Scientology, a movement that continues to this day.

But Rinder suggests that Kobrin really doesn't deserve to be seen in the same light as Moxon. "She was told to do that by Warren McShane. Absolutely no question," Rinder says. McShane was president of the Religious Technology Center, a church entity that controls Scientology's trademarks, and for which Moxon and Kobrin work.

"She was put into a position that made her into an ogre. She didn't enjoy that," Rinder added. "She has a different personality than Rick Moxon. She did some things she probably shouldn't have done, but she did them because she was told to do it."


The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#6: Anonymous
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


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