Joe Childs at the Tampa Bay Times sent reverberations across the world of Scientology-watching last night with his stunning investigative story about the arrest of Denise Gentile, twin sister to Scientology leader David Miscavige.
Gentile, 53, was arrested in January for DUI, possession of nine marijuana “blunts,” and failure to yield. Childs painstakingly pieced together the background of the arrest, which is sordid and fascinating. According to Childs’ reporting, Denise Gentile and her husband Gerald owned and rented numerous run-down rental properties in Pinellas County, Florida that became havens for drug dealing. Denise, the article says, even took rent from one tenant in the form of marijuana cigarettes.
A dope-smoking slumlord is certainly not the preferred image for Scientology’s ruling family. As Childs points out, Scientology not only eschews drug use, but touts its various anti-drug campaigns. In recent months, however, David Miscavige has had to contend with numerous image problems involving his own family, which only exacerbate the numerous crises currently gripping Scientology itself.
A year ago, we reported that Miscavige’s own father, Ronald Miscavige Sr., had escaped from Scientology’s International Base in California, joining his other son, Ron Jr., in Virginia, who had previously left the church. (Ron Jr. has reportedly moved to California since then, while Ron Sr. remains in Virginia.) As embarrassing as it was to lose his own father to defection, Miscavige then had to endure the disastrous publicity that came with the publication of an explosive memoir by his niece, Jenna Miscavige Hill. Her book portrayed David Miscavige as a meddling and cowardly bully. In her book, Jenna had kind things to say about her aunt, Denise Gentile. But now Denise’s arrest has brought another publicity nightmare for her brother, the church leader
Denise herself posted this interesting rant on her Facebook page the day she was arrested, January 22…
Childs recounted Denise Gentile’s interesting history, which included her questionable involvement in a Scientologist-owned technology company, Digital Lightwave. She was also sued in relation to the death of Kyle Brennan, a young man whose father was a Scientologist and, on the recommendation of Denise, took away Kyle’s psychiatric medicine. A couple of days later, Kyle was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head. (Law enforcement officials ruled the death a suicide; a lawsuit brought against Denise and the church by Kyle’s mother, Victoria Britton, was dismissed for lack of evidence.)
We asked numerous ex-church members to give us their thoughts on this latest debacle facing the Miscavige family. And first, we turned to Jesse Prince, who immediately came to mind for a very obvious reason: Back in 2001, Scientology put on a concerted campaign, using undercover private investigators, to get Prince prosecuted for a marijuana plant growing on his balcony. (At the time, Prince was scheduled to testify in a lawsuit regarding the death of church member Lisa McPherson, and the spy campaign was seen as the church’s desperate way to keep him off the witness stand.) The misdemeanor case ended up with a hung jury as jurors admitted that they didn’t like the church’s involvement.
We called up Jesse last night, telling him we thought he might have something to say about the twin sister of the church’s leader getting caught with so much marijuana in her vehicle.
“I really appreciate you asking me about this, but the marijuana arrest was the least of my problems with them,” he said. Like Childs, Prince recalled Denise Gentile’s previous entanglements in Digital Lightwave and other stains on her reputation.
“All I can do is laugh. It is so fucking pathetic. What kind of slumlord accepts marijuana for rent? I guess she’s getting what she deserves. I’m just glad it’s coming out. The church today, it’s just like watching a slow implosion,” he said.
“As insane as they were to go on and on about me and marijuana, now for her to get caught like this? It’s a huge embarrassment,” he added. “David Miscavige’s whole family is crumbling around him.”
We also received responses from several other well known former members of the Church of Scientology…
I do not recall David Miscavige ever speaking about Denise during the 1990’s. I do remember him talking about her in the early 2000’s. In fact, it was sort of like, “Dude has a twin sister?” I don’t think he wanted people to know about her. He said something along the lines about her being “an out-ethics C-word” (rhymes with blunt). She was Denise Liccardi at that time and was involved in some shady business stuff as far as I remember. Dave was embarrassed that she was always getting into trouble and it was reflecting bad on him. It was never about her. It was how she would be perceived as related to him and then he would look bad.
Denise couldn’t still be a Scientologist if she’s doing drugs. It’s against everything they stand for…. David must be irate about his family — his dad blew, his brother left, his twin sister doing drugs, his niece wrote a book about him — and his wife is locked up somewhere. The result of Scientology tech application to one’s family = a disaster. But inside the church, it will never be heard about. And if someone gets wind of it, OSA will have a packet of docs to prove about how Joe Childs is a long term enemy trying to smear the church and its members.
Michelle “Emma” Sterling:
My initial reaction was amusement, because once again it proves that even the highest levels of Scientology do not make people any better, stronger or wiser that the average Joe. But after the schadenfreude passed, the gravity of her situation hit me. Studies have shown that many people abuse drugs in an attempt to deal with stress that seems unbearable and unresolvable. My suggestion is that she should seek out real drug addiction treatment that will help her understand how to deal with the stress she lives under, and has lived under for 30 years — the stress of having a twin whose name is David Miscavige. Denise may be completely unware that there are people outside of Scientology who understand her situation more than she could possibly know & want to help her.They are waiting for her. They are free, and like much of the rest of her family, she could be too.
I don’t know a lot about Denise. I can relate one experience I had regarding her in late 1987 or early 1988. At the time, my job at the International Base (Gilman Hot Springs) was to investigate situations that indicated that the procedures of auditing or training had been carried out incorrectly. I was in what was called the International Flub Catch section. Denise had gotten in trouble for something. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was. Part of the time when she was living in New Hampshire she was working for a software company that was owned and run by Scientologists. Also, her second husband, Sam Licciardi, had earlier been in the Sea Org and was in the “Commodore’s Messenger Organization” arm in Clearwater. Anyway, I was given her auditing files to review. The idea is that if someone gets in trouble (is involved in “out-ethics”), that means that they must have received bad auditing or some other kind of “out-tech.” It was a big deal because she was COB’s sister. Someone had called for her auditing folders to be sent from Clearwater to the International Base. So I studied the records of her auditing and found some “errors” (departures from the prescribed actions that were supposed to be done, which are amazingly exacting) in the “New OT V” auditing that she had received. I reported what I had found and her poor auditor got sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force. He was a guy named Geary Titus, who unfortunately had a pretty severe heart condition. Then the people reporting to David Miscavige could tell him that Denise’s auditing had been investigated, it was of course found to have been bad, and the culprit had been suitably punished. What a weird, weird world that was, and is.
Well, Scientologists’ relationship with drugs is interesting. The writings are very puritanical on the matter as is pointed out by Childs, yet Scientologists mostly drink, and more than average smoke tobacco, as of course did LRH until he was quite ill at the end of his life. Hubbard also used various pharmaceuticals at various points during his life according to Lawrence Wright’s book. Also, the first time I met Miscavige was at a party at the Int Base, where the amount of hard liquor consumed by the top Execs was amazing. Kahlua and Jack Daniels were particular favourites. DM himself is well known for his love of single-malt Scotch. Yet there is indeed a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to parishioners. I got the sharp end of this first hand in 1997 when another public Scientologist and myself shared a spliff one day in London. After writing it up (one always has to write up transgressions – it’s cheaper than getting sec Checks!) the Captain St Hill Foundation ordered me onto an extensive ethics handling, including a spell on the “DPF” – a sort of RPF-lite that public don’t usually do, but as I was ex-SO I did. The only LRH reference I know of where drug use is authorised is one which deals with “Type IIIs” – psychotics, where “mild sedatives” are suggested. No doubt this was the basis for Lisa McPherson’s treatment, and she wasn’t the only one by far. Scott Campbell has recently relayed his story aboard the Freewinds of nearly losing the plot completely due to this type of handling — see Karen de la Carriere’s excellent video series. I expect the Church strategy on Denise to be the usual deny everything. None of this will make it to the eyes of Scientologists, or if it really blows up will be positioned as some sort of psych-orchestrated stitch-up. One thing’s for sure though, poor old beleaguered DM won’t be enjoying his cornflakes this morning
It amazes me that the church proudly beats its chest about helping people come off drugs when in fact it is a common practice to label drug users as “degraded beings” and use punishment and humiliation as the driving force to “handle” them. As long as they continue to do that they are going to churn out “products” like Denise — people who are completely broken down and who will eventually wind up in serious trouble one way or another. That being said, I have little sympathy for Denise in light of the financial benefits she afforded herself by virtue of her position in the Church and her role in the Kyle Brennan case. Interesting how karma seems to wind it’s way into a situation and ultimately bring about justice.
No real surprises. I guess when Scientologists are trying to deal with their own crimes and inhuman actions that the emotional and physical strain is just too much to bear without some form of chemical relief, drink or drugs, or both. Auditing certainly won’t help. A good clean confession might help in this case. Remember Kyle Brennan.
Pete, like several others, brought up the death of Kyle Brennan, suggesting that Childs’ story might breathe life into the lawsuit that was brought by his mother. For an opinion on that, we turned to attorney Scott Pilutik, who followed the Brennan lawsuit very closely from the beginning.
Could these revelations about Denise Gentile, we asked Scott, have an affect on the Brennan case?
It doesn’t affect it in the slightest. If Denise was forced to testify in some future hypothetical Brennan case, or if it was magically revived, then maybe this tarnishes her credibility as a witness but even then perhaps not. It sure is delicious though. I can’t believe Childs went to town on it like he did, but am really glad he did. Weird though that he went with the marijuana in the title; to me the possession is the least of her problems. The DUI is worse, and her complicity in the sale of drugs is far worse.
We’ll be watching closely as Gentile’s case works its way through the Florida court system. Childs reports that she has a pretrial hearing scheduled for July 25.
Continuance in Laura DeCrescenzo Lawsuit
We’ve really been looking forward to Monday, when a hearing was scheduled in Laura DeCrescenzo’s four-year lawsuit against the Church of Scientology. DeCrescenzo is alleging that she suffered abuse during her 12-year career in Scientology’s “Sea Org,” including being forced to have an abortion at only 17.
On Monday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald Sohigian was scheduled to hear arguments and rule on the church’s motion that thousands of pages of evidence it’s supposed to hand over on Tuesday be put under a protective order so those documents don’t get seen by the public. The church has appealed the order to fork over that evidence multiple times, even unsuccessfully asking the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency stay.
On Friday, however, the clerk of the court filed a notice of continuance that didn’t appear to come from either side in the lawsuit, which suggests that Sohigian himself has decided to move the date of the hearing back. As soon as we get a new date, or hear some explanation for the reason for the change, we’ll let you know.
Posted by Tony Ortega on June 30, 2013 at 08:00
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