Scientology, Deposed? Debbie Cook Goes on the Offensive (UPDATED)

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[San Antonio Current]
UPDATE: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times have a startling new detail about the Cook lawsuit tonight. They report that in 2009, Cook and her husband Wayne Baumgarten were alarmed when Church operatives showed up in San Antonio to talk to them, and, worried about their safety, purchased a gun. Cook's attorney Ray Jeffrey says that it's more evidence that the couple not only signed their 2007 agreement under duress, but have been under duress ever since.

On Friday, the Church of Scientology did as promised and filed a motion for summary judgment in its lawsuit against former executive Debbie Cook. The church is asking the Bexar County, Texas district court to see this lawsuit as a simple contract dispute, and one the church deserves to win without going any further.

Cook's attorney, Ray Jeffrey, told us that he thinks there's enough disagreement over the basic facts that a judge won't grant Scientology's motion -- the church maintains that when Cook sent out a New Year's Eve e-mail complaining about how Scientology is now betraying its original principles with a focus on "extreme fundraising," she violated the terms of a 2007 non-disclosure agreement she signed when she left the church's employ. But in a stunning February 9 hearing, Cook told a very different story -- that she signed that agreement only under extreme duress, and that she had literally been under guard when she was forced to sign it before she could go free from what had become a nightmare of abuse.

Jeffrey predicted that not only would a judge not cut the case short by granting the church an easy victory, but that the case would get even messier for the church.

Yesterday, Debbie Cook made good on part of that prediction, opening up several new lines in her counterattack with three new court filings that promise to make the discovery process a painful one for David Miscavige, Scientology's leader.

We have copies of those filings posted below.

In the first document, Cook is calling for Scientology to be deposed in the case, this Monday.

Jeffrey explained to me that Cook can ask for the church to produce witnesses to be questioned under oath so quickly as long as no particular witness is asked for by name.

If Cook wanted to depose Kathy True, for example -- the head of "external security" at Scientology's Florida "Mecca" who, Cook testified, hunted down Cook and her husband when they tried to flee the church in 2007 -- they would have to do so in Florida, and probably at a much later date. But under Texas law, Cook instead can produce a list of questions she wants asked in a deposition, and it's the church's responsibility to produce a witness who is competent to answer them -- and without having to go to Florida or anywhere else.

"They're required to send someone who knows what they're talking about," Jeffrey told me by phone yesterday.

Among the questions Cook wants to be addressed in a deposition, and in only a few days...

-- "The Security arrangements at Hacienda Gardens in 2007," the apartment complex where Cook says she and her husband were held against their will, forced to take part in constant "confessions," and felt they had to sign anything to be allowed to leave.

-- "The Defendants' financial compensation and vacation during their employment
with the Plaintiff,"
a question that should elicit some detail about how Sea Org members toil for up to 100 hours and for about 50 dollars a week, with almost no days off, ever.

-- "The relationship between the Plaintiff and David Miscavige from 2006 to the
present,"
and now we're really getting somewhere. As we've written earlier, Scientology's attorneys have so far tried to convince the Texas district court that the church's ultimate leader, Miscavige, is not a party to this suit. But Cook is making this lawsuit more and more about her treatment at the hands of the "Chairman of the Board," particularly during her 7-week alleged imprisonment in "the Hole," a notorious office-prison at Scientology's California international base.

-- "The relationship between the Plaintiff and Marty Rathbun from 1990 to the
present"..."The relationship between the Plaintiff and Mike Rinder from 1990 to the present."
Now we get into nightmare territory for the church. Not only is Cook indicating that she wants to bring into this case details about the defections of two of Scientology's most formerly high-ranking officials and currently two of its most effective critics, but the filing puts the church on notice that she plans to have Rathbun and Rinder present at the taking of the deposition.

Um, wow.

"Of course they're going to fight it, but it's ridiculous that they filed this motion for summary judgment on Friday," Jeffrey told me, explaining that Scientology's attorneys are trying to hurry the case, no doubt because it's gone so badly for them so far.

In the second filing, Cook continues the discovery process by asking the church to turn over various records, and again, church leader David Miscavige is targeted directly.

In the third filing, Jeffrey asks the court to delay the church's motion for summary judgment, pointing out that Scientology is rushing things before a single deposition has been taken or any of Cook's requests for records have been addressed.

Knowing that, under the Bexar County district court's way of doing things, the case will likely rotate to a new judge unfamiliar with what has happened to this point, Jeffrey made sure to hammer home some startling facts...

Ms. Cook was among the most loyal and valuable Scientologists in the world before she was viciously abused and discarded by the Church in 2007. Before her departure from the Church's employment, she was beaten, tortured, terrorized, degraded, kidnapped, denied medical care, held against her will, and forced to sign an unconscionable contract. During her 27-year career, she dedicated herself to her Church employment for long hours, seven days' per week, 52 weeks per year. At one stretch, she worked ten years without a single personal day off. Her financial compensation was less than $10,000 per year. The Church has billions of dollars in wealth, but provides no financial retirement plan for the workers who dedicate their life to its service...

And...

According to the world view of Church leaders, Ms. Cook and her husband now must be squashed like bugs. The current litigation against Ms. Cook and her husband is a classic example of the Church of Scientology's overreaching approach to litigation...

This next part I can attest to myself: I was there to see it...

In its zeal to keep the lid on its misdeeds concerning Ms. Cook, the Church sought unsuccessfully to exclude the news media from the courtroom. The attorney went so far as to make his opening statement, and then request that the Defendants' attorney be prevented from making an opening statement on their behalf...

Jeffrey says Scientology's motion for summary judgment was "ridiculously premature," and is an attempt to end things before his client can even get going.

In an e-mail, Jeffrey also wanted us to know how much the readers of this blog are contributing to the way this lawsuit is turning out...

Tony, I would like your readers to know how much we appreciate their responses to your posts of the case documents. Aside from the humor (which I, for one, need during this ordeal), their brilliant legal minds are helping us with their analyses. They may not be privy to all the facts and the nuances of Texas legal rules, but they are raising important points that we are incorporating into our multi-pronged counterattack ....Again, Debbie and my thanks to them and you. -- Ray

And here are the documents. As usual, I look forward to your analysis of them!


1. Notice of Deposition

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2. Requests for Production

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CookDisc3.png
CookDisc4.png


3. Motion to Compel

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CookCompel5.png
CookCompel6.png
CookCompel7.png



**********
Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at tortega@villagevoice.com, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories, which tend to come out each and every morning at 8 am, but can suddenly appear at any time of the day. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.

New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories. As for our regular features, on Thursdays we do a roundup of world press, on Fridays we visit L. Ron Hubbard on the yacht Apollo circa 1969-1971, on Saturdays we celebrate the week's best comments, and on Sundays we publish Scientology's wacky and tacky advertising mailers that people send us.

As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and is now being sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.

Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.


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449 comments
StubbsSan
StubbsSan

 I feel guilty because I am not paying for this entertainment.  This is truly better than any movie, or live comedy act.  John P. and OT8 you rock!

Jgg
Jgg

  Today (March 8th) is Intl. Women's Day.  In some countries, it is an official holiday.  I don't think the Church of Scientology celebrates it, given their forced abortions, L. Ron Hubbard saying women should not work outside the home and David Miscavige abandoning his wife.

Jgg
Jgg

  Arguably the presence of an implant in one's brain is duress by itself.

Jgg
Jgg

  Fear is evidence of duress.  Was their fear unreasonable?  That opens the door to Scientology's past practices.  I do not think that the Church of Scientology wants to open that door.

Jgg
Jgg

  They have to push Miscavige's whereabouts.  If he's dead, he is no longer running the church and thus Cook (who only attacked Miscavige) did not attack a Scientology official.  If he's alive, what is he hiding from?  And where is his wife?  If he mistreats his own wife, Cook had every reason to fear him, thus duress is established.

Wholigan
Wholigan

     Declaring them as SP's would be a lot easier to the Kool-Aide drinkers than to admit there are no OT powers.

Peter
Peter

My church physically abuses women.

That's it. Done. Finished.

Love
Love

Don't forget the main point: Debbie Cook and her husband escaped the church, which mean they didn't want any money or contract just their freedom.

The Church hunted them down and they return.

Why they agree to return?

Why they agree to sing the contract?

duress? ho no.

 they agree because of the love for David Miscavigh the abuser.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

Mr. Jeffrey, you need to go to YouTube and watch this video. You'll get to witness what the French courts went through. It's a jaw dropper.

Here's the title:

Is Scientology Above The Law?

A Fench TV documentary by an Australian TV network. It covers a court case in which documents were stolen from the French courts. -- hmm..wonder who would do that?

52.25 min. Full length documentary YouTube by conspiracycult

Make sure all your documents are secure. Put them in a vault if you have to. LoLAnd watch out for the janitor that cleans your office. ;-)

Noah Miller
Noah Miller

I have a feeling the church is going to drop the lawsuit. Their fear is the courts and if, as this suggests they can't just draw out the proceedings over months and years, I think they'll just step away... Not that they won't do anything else afterwards but they'll try to get out of the courtroom. 

Kim O'Brien
Kim O'Brien

in regards to the update~ everyone in Texas sees a threat (like those gay, muslim, mexican , tree hugging atheists who are sneaking over the border by purchasing an airline ticket in business class ) but shit ..a scientologist at your door ?? more power to you sista ;)

Jimmy Kowski
Jimmy Kowski

What I'm worried about is the obvious massive anti-climax that we're all going to feel if the church caves in {highly likely surely?, ed}. I think there's nothing like adding grist to the mill when the fires burning and I think the best way of going about it is to force an investigation as to the whereabouts of Shelly Miscavige.... I'm no lawyer but if I went up to a police station in the UK and said my friend is missing and I think there's a strong chance her husband might have killed her would 100% force a preliminary investigation. The police here would actually need bone fide confirmation that this person actually was still alive. Throw in that this person is likely to have been brainwashed, drugged etc and there's no way that they would accept a brief visual confirmation.

Maybe some of the senior ex's here could shed some light on where she is - or god forbid, was.Out of all the brilliant questions the one that stood out for me as one that has legs outside of this case is what scientology is doing for it's oldest members... we all know they're left out to dry but if there's one thing that's likely to spook them and all existing staff is they have no pension.... a kind of tangent attack approach, maybe.

Incidentally, I have no connection to scientology at all and have no friends who were/are in it. No, what got me intrigued was reading an article in the UK satirical magazine 'Private Eye' years ago where the story was that there was a construction project on the road adjacent to Tottenham Court Road where the workers could look into the back of scientology's offices..... the story goes that some of these workmen 'wolf-whistled', made 'gestures' etc at some of the girls they saw there.... anyway , about a week later one of the guys was woken up at his home at 6a.m. on a Sunday morning by this massive racket outside his window and saw about a dozen people screaming and shouting, banging things etc.... when he went outside he was told "how to you like it when it happens to you".... he recognised this guy as being the boss of the Tottenham branch.  Can you imagine?.... they must have had someone follow him home to get his address. Wow, I thought - any outfit that did this kind of shit must surely have something to hide. 

This was approx early 90's pre internet.... so I kind of forgot about it but then that brilliant UK Panorama broadcast rekindled my interest. Any "religion" that could make one of the most mild mannered BBC reporters lose it big time obviously had even more to hide than I previously imagined..... and then there was the Tom thing......

on a final note I recently posted Rehabilitation Project Force - 1997; Scientology's Batshit Crazy Prison Rules on my facebook group "Medialushness" [just do the search].... I also posted the financial reports from the UK HQ for 1997.... (they had £20m in cash in their bank..... CASH!)

peace to y'all

eddieVroom
eddieVroom

It appears that Debbie, Marty and Mike are making a move toward reforming Scientology as new management. They have to make this shot count. If any of these people are to have any place in the future "church" and hold that seat of power with credibility, they must "make it go right" against David Miscavige. And it appears that the path there is by way of using this opportunity to air David Miscavige's SP Declare publicly, and use the response to gain traction toward taking over. I believe it reasonable to consider that whatever lulz may be in it for us, what comes out in this case is intended by Debbie, R & R to play first and foremost to the "audience" of Scientology publics, and later to Org insiders as a debriefing when DM is toppled.

Aa
Aa

Debbie Cook and Wayne Baumgarten might want to familiarize themselves with Texas use-of-deadly-force law, in particular sections 9.42 and 9.43 of the Texas Penal Code. (Unlike most every other state in the country, self-defense does not appear to be a prerequisite for "taking someone out" in the state of Texas.)

a sample:

§ 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:(1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and(2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:(A) to prevent the other's imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or(B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and(3) he reasonably believes that: (A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or(B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

Just something to think about the next time someone (perhaps coincidentally resembling Dave Lubow?) is seen crawling in the bushes at night. 

DISCLAIMER: this is not meant as any kind of legal advice ... or any kind of suggestion, whatsoever, period.

Doogie111
Doogie111

Dear scientologists,Better secure your spot in the class action lawsuit, or throw more loot away kiddies!THIS my lovelies...is the TIP of the iceberg, Karma...see, she has a hammer & STEEL BALLS &from what I understand-(its super surprise buttsex !)--FO REALZ!Cannot spill anymore beans-but I will give you thiiiiisssss>> Have fun storming the castle!Surveillance  can be hacked, recorded and displayed dear OSA, there is NOTHING "Special" about your "Affairs"---in fact, your reign of terror is over--and flipped, have fun in prison accessories to murder(yes sp like that)-, blackmail, torture, inhumane conditions, cruel & unusual punishment, unsafe work environment..etc etc etmofukincetera.The END game-it is upon us....grab your popcorn, your paranoid movie stars-(John, yes u-TRAVOLTA--did u think u could trash an honest Bahamian's reputation..unscathed?) NOT EVERYONE can be bought, and we know what happened to JETT; and you let an "organization" trump love for your son. Justice to his memory. How DARE you put these greedy snake oil salesman before your own son, who WORSHIPPED YOU!And TOMMY BOY, I pity your realization that your nothing but BAIT, a SUCKER for all SUCKERS!The END...bye bye DMM&M, nice try but you should have exposed the number, frequency, and degree of crimes that you evaded answering for, participating in, privy to, planning of----overall pre-meditation of. You'll be prosecuted for being PUSSIES. You had ENOUGH time to pull back the BEEF CURTAINS! Cooperate and exercise PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.By NOT telling what you know, you let others get the jump, the story, the STATES EVIDENCE, and slant on story. LOLOLOLGood luck ya yellow bellied twats!

A BIG middle finger to you dumb asses for thinking your superiorfor believing a delusional, hack, science-fictionPYRAMID SCHEMEAnd WOGS are the DUMMIES!? LMAOCatch up, come to the present time and get your life backTESTIFY or someone else WILL!

pop

J. Swift
J. Swift

Vicki Aznaran was, at one time, IG RTC. In her Declaration of  4 April 1994 makes for interesting reading right about now. No one doubts that Miscavige is micro-managingthis legal matter down to the nth degree. The Squirrel Busters were also a DM debacleand this case is shaping up to unimaginably worse in every way for the Cult.

One can Google to find Vicki Aznaran's Declaration. This is fascinating historicalmaterial that sheds light on what is happening in Texas now. I quote a part of it below:

" Miscavige has, since 1981, been the decision maker over what lawsuits are filed by Scientology and how any lawsuits Scientology is engaged in are to be litigated. He does this without regard to the particular Scientology corporate entity (s)involved in the litigation. Miscavige has never allowed anyone else to make the final decisions concerning such matters. During my tenure as Inspector General of RTC, as well as the head of the o40 mission which took over the US Guardian's Office, as outlined in Miscavige's declaration, I attended many meetings and saw countless orders from Miscavige concerning Scientology's litigation. "During all trials, Miscavige receives daily transcripts and issues orders directly to the attorneys, no matter which particular Scientology corporate entity has been chosen to bring the litigation or which entity has been sued. The heads of CSI would never be allowed to independently bring orinitiate a lawsuit. "During my tenure in RTC, Miscavige received a 'legal daily report', of which I received a copy. This report contained summaries of everything that occurred on any of Scientology's lawsuits. "Miscavige would issue orders and call meetings concerning these matters on a regular basis. Litigation is very costly and can result in severely adverse PR. Therefore, Miscavige was never willing for the decisions concerning it to be turned over to anyone else..."/////

misty
misty

no doubt !  you are so right....

DamOTclese2
DamOTclese2

Wow the latest update. The need to purchase a firearm to defend themselves against Miscaviage's thugs is very telling.

TheHoleDoesNotExist
TheHoleDoesNotExist

What a Day!  The Downstats are raining like cats and dogs.  Miscavige is gonna need a bigger boat, like maybe an Ark.  Just today's headlines...

1) Scientology, Deposed? Debbie Cook goes on the Offensive2) Mental Health Minister critisizes Scientology campaign (CCHR in Australia)3) Pinellas School Board approves Notice of Termination for Life Force Academy4) Paul Thomas Anderson's Scientology-inspired film "The Master" could hit    theaters in October5)  Ex-Scientology leader Debbie Cook says she and her husband bought a gun because     they feared the church

Concerned for America
Concerned for America

 Tony, Great job! How about a post about why the church can never admit their wrong. It seems they are "stuck in some incident" about always having to be right. I think it's quite obvious they have a narcissist disorder in a strange " I love watching you writher" kind of way.I'm really starting to think this David Miscavige guy is a psychotic Hitler. He doesn't just want to exterminate his former troops, he whats to see them squirm for years in agony as he he keeps his automatons applying the pressure. Well, every cooker has a tipping point and I think this one is about to come with the top exploding off!The Jim Jones catastrophe will seem like a Saturday morning cartoon! If I was a Scientologist, I would do everything to get the hell out with as many people I could before this thing blows up.

Scribe
Scribe

Clears aren't perfect. Where did you see that?

Scribe
Scribe

bleh, Out of context...

Scribe
Scribe

Agreed hgc. The real issue is making sure criminal actions, like those committed by David Miscavige and his toadies, cannot be hidden behind the corporate veil, OR a minister's collar.

DeckardCain
DeckardCain

Interesting that the only clueless clams on this blog post are of the Independent variety.  The entheta of the legal documents must really be so strong that it can knock a case off the whole track.

(my Scientology diarrhea terms are not up to snuff, but I think you all get my point)

It's Obvious
It's Obvious

Thanks for the post and link. So disturbing. That Doc needs to go viral.

CofS Exit Zone
CofS Exit Zone

I'm leaning this way myself, they not only bit off more than they can chew but opened a volcano sized can of worms. But I've been wondering, if the church does drop it - what happens to the counter-suit?

Marcabian
Marcabian

"I think the best way of going about it is to force an investigation as to the whereabouts of Shelly Miscavige.... I'm no lawyer but if I went up to a police station in the UK and said my friend is missing and I think there's a strong chance her husband might have killed her would 100% force a preliminary investigation"

Actually, a lot of critics have been working on this for a while.  The issue with going to the police to make a missing person's report is that the police will only investigate if the report is made by a family member or close friend.  Saying that you are a "close friend" isn't enough; you have to be able to establish a relationship to the police before they'll even open a report.

BTW, it's believed that Shelly is being sequestered at the Twin Peaks facility that Tony wrote about some time ago.

Nibbles42
Nibbles42

While I'd be happy for the entire concept of Scientology to disappear into history... if a reformed Co$, after many very public battles that will keep them under public and perhaps government scrutiny, can reform and remove DM from power, it is still a step in the right direction.

Urfactfinder
Urfactfinder

eddie  I have not seen any indication Debbie, Marty or Mike have any inclination to hold a seat of power in the future church. I've been following this for nearly a year.

DeckardCain
DeckardCain

Not likely that they will make a go of it.  Once management is dismantled, I suspect that the US government may get involved in subtle ways.  Probably around money issues, if we are lucky.  I wonder if the Feds are waiting until the structure is sufficiently weakened before they strike.

Evil is built into the DNA of Scientology, and there will be many lost Ronbots not willing to trust known SPs.  Current parishoners (what is left of them) won't let the idiot Indies back into the fold without massive deprogramming.  That isn't likely to happen quickly enough for Rinder, Rathbun, and any other 'apostate' to sweep in and take over.

You cannot wipe away the stain of Scientology through reform unless you start over completely.  That would mean discrediting LRH as the 'source'.  

PickAnotherID
PickAnotherID

 Hope this has been forwarded to Mr. Jeffrey.

Mrs. VonTrapp
Mrs. VonTrapp

So he's had over thirty years to hone his legal skilz lol. No wonder the Debbie case is going so poorly for them so far. Dave is sinking the ship. My only fear is, when water starts coming over the bow, how many people will he try and take with him. LRon threw his own wife under the bus on OP SNOW WHITE. What will Dave do? 

Anon!
Anon!

 I am not surprised that they bought a handgun. Fair Game isn't anything to play with and when DM sent THREE people to TX. It's very likely I would have done the same thing in that circumstance.

TheHoleDoesNotExist
TheHoleDoesNotExist

hahahaha  from the Times article "Cook told the Times Tuesday that True arrived in San Antonio with Angie Blankenship and Mike Sutter.

Hey, maybe Jenna Miscavige would like to follow up on anything Angie would say on the stand.  Woh!  I'm beginning to see a chessboard here with Aerosmith tune "Janie's Got a Gun" playing theme music in the background. 

Jgg
Jgg

  "We can't get worse public opinion than we have had"--L. Ron Hubbard, in a letter to Helen O'Brien.

Scribe
Scribe

Hmmm, either I'm seeing things or my "replies" aren't posting under the parent comment.

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

More comments from all is a good thing though.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

Your welcome. Yep, pretty unbelievable. I seriously don't know how they keep getting away with it? Hope they don't do that to the Judge in Debbie's case.

Aa
Aa

If the cult chose to drop this lawsuit, would that not literally open the floodgates, of people ripping up their gag-contract and speaking out for the first time? To keep former members in fear, won't Miscavige have to make an example out of Debbie Cook, no matter what it costs in money or bad PR, just to make sure no one else gets any similar ideas?

The lawsuit being only one arm of the cult's traditional multi-pronged attack, there's also the "fatal accident" scenario, as Paulette Cooper, Gerry Armstrong, and other dissidents felt they were being set up for. Or being framed on criminal charges. If the past is any indication, there's nothing the Scientology cult won't do, whether inside of outside the law.

Jgg
Jgg

  It's an invitation for everyone else to sue them.  It's as if a lion dies: animals that used to fear it (birds, rodents, etc.) can now go after it without fear.

Noah Miller
Noah Miller

That's dependent on those inside the church actually knowing about the news of the day. Information control is still a big problem with them.

Hatchune Shun
Hatchune Shun

Looks like, the cult loses either way.They lose if they take the ball home, and they lose when they leave the ball alone and walk away.

Tough choices dontcha think?

bobx
bobx

Yes, quite literally.  The church CANNOT just "drop" the lawsuit since the counter-claim was filed; they can only walk away by conceding the counter-claim, which asks for a declaration that the gag order is invalid.

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