In December, I finally got the chance to meet Paulette Cooper when we had breakfast near the offices of the Voice. For many of us who toil in this business of reporting on Scientology, we have no greater hero. Paulette's 1971 book, The Scandal of Scientology, was one of the first exposes of the church and remains one of the best. And no other writer who revealed Scientology's secrets paid a higher price: As we told in new detail on Thanksgiving Day, Paulette was framed by Scientology operatives who were determined to get her imprisoned. She faced 15 years in prison at one point, indicted for sending bomb threats that had actually been faked by the church. She lived with extreme harassment from 1969 to 1985, when the last of 19 church lawsuits against her were finally settled.
Paulette and Suzy in the 1980s
Even today, 35 years after an FBI raid on the church turned up documents revealing that Scientology had set out to frame Paulette, there are still mysteries about the plot against her, which church operatives called Operation PC Freakout -- we are making progress even today filling in those details, the subject of a future story.
But there was another, unpredictable outcome from that December breakfast, another part of Paulette's story that suddenly opened up to her in dramatic fashion. And today, we have those details.