Scientology Targeted South Park's Parker and Stone in Investigation (UPDATED)
UPDATE: New Scientology internal documents about the investigation of Parker and Stone leaked. See our new story here. Also, Scientology responds to this story, and we decode their response for you.
Stone (left) and Parker
NEW: filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman confirms that he was asked about Trey Parker and Matt Stone by Scientology's Eric Sherman in 2006. And Mark Ebner adds more confirmation that OSA followed people who worked on the 2005 South Park episode. Also, a private investigator describes sifting trash for the Church of Scientology.
Another interesting revelation at Marty Rathbun's blog this morning: Rathbun released what he said was an internal Scientology document which suggests that the church targeted Trey Parker and Matt Stone for a classic OSA investigation in retaliation for the infamous South Park episode that exposed the religion's bizarre upper-level teachings.
Rathbun tells me this initial document is just the beginning of a trove that describes how Scientology investigated Parker and Stone over a significant period after the duo deeply embarrassed the church with its 2005 episode, "Trapped in the Closet."
Marty Rathbun himself was once a powerful executive in Scientology who defected in 2004, and since 2009 has been criticizing church leader David Miscavige at his blog. At various times this year, Rathbun has made public similar documents which reveal the covert operations of Scientology's Office of Special Affairs.
The document he revealed today suggests that Scientology had identified Parker and Stone's close friends, and was examining public records on those people, looking for a vulnerability.
"To find a direct line into Stone and Parker some of their friends have been identified," reads the document, which reads like a typical OSA report on an ongoing investigation. The church's information allegedly was coming from Eric Sherman, a film consultant who Rathbun identifies as a Scientologist (the Voice is attempting to reach him), and who had talked with Troma Studio's Lloyd Kaufman for information about Parker and Stone.
Several friends to the South Park duo are then identified: writer Matthew Prager (That's My Bush), actor John Stamos, actress Rebecca Romijn, and writer David Goodman.
"These connections are being PRC'd," reads the document, and Rathbun explains that the acronym stands for "public records check." Scientology's standard procedure would be to put its private eyes on a complete check of these people and their property, legal, and other public records. If they owed taxes, or had been in messy divorces, or had been arrested, Scientology would soon know about it.
"There are some strings that will be pulled on the PRC on Stone," the document reads, suggesting that investigators had already found something about Matt Stone in public records that would make him vulnerable.
"Otherwise the special collections will be debugged in order to get some viable strings that can be pulled," the document then reads, and Rathbun explains that "special collections" is Scientology's code for trash digging.
I asked Rathbun what kind of things OSA's operatives would be looking for in the trash of Parker and Stone and their friends.
"Phone records. Bank records. Personal letters that expose some kind of vulnerability. They'll read stuff into the kind of alcohol you're drinking and how much. Prescriptions. They'll figure out your diet. They can find out a lot about you through your trash," he told me this morning by phone from his home in South Texas.
"You can see that the commanding officer is pissed off and not enough is getting done," he says about the final lines from the OSA document. But additional documents show that the investigation did get going in a big way, and we'll have more about that soon.
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
#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.
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE
[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
[Scientology hates clean ice: The "Fair Game" operation that should turn your stomach]
[Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]
MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS
[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]
SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"
[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice]
[Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: "No one's going to take my eternity away"]
SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES
["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]
[Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips "the business that is Scientology"]
JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY
[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]
HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT
[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]
[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails]
ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS
[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]
THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE
[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
[Scientology High School, Dating and Super Powers!]