The Monique Rathbun harassment lawsuit against Scientology is really heating up, with a judge’s order yesterday that denied the church’s attempt to bounce Monique’s attorneys from the case and now, we’ve learned, former Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis is being dragged into the case to press him under oath about his years working with church leader David Miscavige.
Davis was served with a subpoena Saturday in Austin, and we expect that he’ll be deposed rather soon — at least before the next hearing date in the case, which is scheduled for October 18.
The son of actress Anne Archer, Davis was the handsome spokesman who became the face of Scientology from about 2006 to 2010, and made many memorable television appearances. But then, he seemed to vanish, and “What happened to Tommy Davis?” became one of the most frequent questions we were asked by readers and other journalists. We’ve answered that question in the past, but now, Tommy may find himself back in the spotlight, and in a very different role than during his days running interference for David Miscavige.
Let’s get right to why we think Davis is being pulled into this harassment lawsuit. Monique Rathbun is alleging that David Miscavige, as the leader of Scientology, has for the past four years directed a complex campaign of surveillance and harassment at her because she’s married to the man who used to be Miscavige’s top lieutenant in the church, Mark “Marty” Rathbun. But Miscavige and the Religious Technology Center (RTC) — the entity that he leads as its chairman of the board, hence his nickname, “COB” — filed “special appearances,” arguing that the Comal County, Texas court has no jurisdiction over them, and that they should be let out of the lawsuit.
Miscavige filed a declaration (and Warren McShane filed one for RTC), saying that he and RTC were only concerned with ecclesiastical matters, and that they had “conducted no activities” in the state of Texas. This, they argued, was compelling evidence why they didn’t belong as defendants in Monique’s lawsuit.
But Marty Rathbun filed an affidavit of his own, saying that for years, as Miscavige’s top lieutenant and an employee of RTC, he helped Miscavige run numerous operations in Texas. Marty, in other words, said that Miscavige had lied on his sworn declaration.
How could testimony from Tommy Davis help Monique prove that her husband is telling the truth, and that Miscavige and McShane lied when they said they conducted no activities in Texas?
We can think of a couple of ways Davis’s testimony could be key. For the first part, Marty Rathbun left Scientology in 2004, and Scientology’s lawyers made the point numerous times in court three weeks ago that Marty has no knowledge of internal church matters in the last nine years.
But Davis does. And he could testify to how much Miscavige obsessed over Marty Rathbun when Rathbun began blogging about Miscavige in 2009.
And then there’s Tommy’s own adventure in Texas in 2010.
We wrote about this when we did a two-part profile about John Brousseau, the last person to defect from Scientology’s International Base and then talk publicly about it.
In April 2010, Brousseau — who had once been L. Ron Hubbard’s driver and, for 16 years, David Miscavige’s brother-in-law — made his escape from Scientology’s International Base near Hemet, California, after spending 32 years as a member of the church’s elite inner “Sea Org.” He drove for days, eventually reaching Corpus Christi, Texas, where he checked into a motel. Marty Rathbun lived in a small town nearby, and they arranged to meet the next day. But the next morning, not yet 6 am, Brousseau left his motel room in search of a cup of coffee, and waiting for him outside his room was Tommy Davis and three other church executives who had been sent to track him down.
“JB, you bad boy,” Davis said.
Eventually, Brousseau was able to get away from the church team, and he met with Marty. He’s been happily out of the church ever since.
But that mission by Davis to track down Brousseau — part of what the church calls its “blow drill,” to track down church members who have defected, or “blown” in Scientology jargon — has become an interesting and contentious matter of litigation.
Was Tommy Davis sent to Texas by the RTC, and David Miscavige, to run down an escaping church employee?
Under oath, in a previous deposition, Tommy Davis said no.
Q: Did your supervisor tell you to go see him?
A: No, she did not.
Q: So, why did you go to Texas to see John?
A: Because he is a very good friend of mine.
Q: So no one sent you to see Mr. Brousseau?
Q: And you were visiting him as part of your job duties for the Church of Scientology?
A: No, I was not.
Davis gave those responses in a deposition while he was still Scientology’s spokesman. It occurred in the lawsuit filed against the church by Marc and Claire Headley. That lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.
As we’ve pointed out before, someone very interesting answered the same question about what Tommy Davis was doing in Texas in a very different way.
And that was his boss, RTC’s Warren McShane.
When John Brousseau left Int Base, McShane called the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, claiming that Brousseau had stolen Scientology property when he fled. (Brousseau told us he was very careful only to take with him his own personal property. He was not charged with a crime.)
And here’s what McShane told Riverside County deputies…
Mr. McShane summoned (4) church members/employees who know JB the best and sent them to Texas to attempt to contact him and perhaps persuade him to return to the facility in Hemet, CA. According to Mr. McShane the four dispatched employees were able to contact JB in the lobby of the Best Western motel on April 26 or 27th 2010. The group tried to persuade JB to return with them. JB retreated to his room and refused to come out or speak with the group.
Now that he’s no longer a Sea Org member or Scientology’s spokesman, will Tommy Davis admit that Warren McShane sent him on a mission to Texas to track down John Brousseau and keep him from meeting with Scientology’s arch-enemy, Marty Rathbun?
The same Warren McShane, that is, who is on record as saying, under oath, that the RTC has conducted no activities in Texas?
Tommy Davis, in other words, is in a very interesting position here. We only wish we could be in the room as he’s questioned by Ray Jeffrey.
As for where Tommy’s been recently, as we’ve reported before, we think it was some time early in 2011 that, for whatever reason, David Miscavige decided that he’d had enough of Tommy’s antics as Scientology’s mouthpiece, and Davis and his wife, Jessica Feshbach, left the Sea Org.
We’ve speculated in the past that what might have been Tommy’s undoing was his bungling of the February 2011 Lawrence Wright New Yorker profile of Paul Haggis, “The Apostate,” which later turned into Wright’s excellent book, Going Clear. (Wright demolished Tommy’s statements about L. Ron Hubbard’s war record.)
And now we think there’s evidence that helps nail down just when Miscavige threw a tantrum and turned on his two shiny flacks. The sharp researchers over at WhyWeProtest.net noticed that on March 30, 2011, the Church of Scientology International (CSI) registered the website domain “Whoistommydavis.com.” On the same day, “WhoisJessicaFeshbach.com” was also registered.
That URL format is familiar to our readers, who know that many websites the church operates anonymously to smear its critics use names like WhoisMartyRathbun or WhoisPaulHaggis.
It’s hard not to conclude that at the end of March, 2011, Miscavige had decided to turn Tommy and Jessica into non-persons, and his intimidation division — the Office of Special Affairs — was already anticipating that they might have to set up smear sites. (While Scientology still maintains that it doesn’t run the anonymous attack sites, spokeswoman Karin Pouw has now admitted multiple times that the church supplies information to the smear sites, a distinction that doesn’t really save the church from itself.)
As for Tommy and Jessica, they moved to Austin, and Jessica got a job selling real estate. Tommy landed a plum position with one of the largest real estate funds in the country, a company that buys entire housing tracts at a time, not individual houses. When he did so, he got a fancy title and started calling himself by a slightly different name…
But now his LinkedIn profile shows a slightly more modest-sounding job position, and he’s now reverted to the name we know so well…
Well, whatever he’s calling himself, we trust his deposition will be a fascinating one.
SCIENTOLOGY FILES DESPERATE-SOUNDING BRIEF ON THE EVE OF TAMPA MINI-TRIAL
Tomorrow, an evidentiary hearing is scheduled to happen in the Luis and Rocio Garcia federal fraud lawsuit against the Church of Scientology, but at the last minute Scientology’s attorneys have filed a motion to compel, asking that the hearing be moved to another day because attorneys for the Garcias haven’t complied with a court order to produce evidence.
The hearing’s purpose is to decide if Ted Babbitt and Ron Weil — the Garcias’ attorneys — acted improperly by employing another attorney, Robert Johnson, to help them recruit additional plaintiffs for the lawsuit. Johnson was once an attorney for Scientology, and the church says that’s a breach of ethics and has asked the court to disqualify Babbitt and Weil for using Johnson. After an evidentiary hearing was set in the matter, the church subpoenaed the Garcia legal team, but Babbitt objected that the subpoenas were way too broad. Magistrate Judge Thomas McCoun III agreed, in part, with Babbitt, and set limits on what the Garcia side would have to turn over. But now Scientology is saying that it still didn’t get what it was entitled to, and on the eve of the hearing, it’s complaining about it.
We asked a member of our legal team to look over the document and interpret it for us. And that analysis is not very sanguine.
The church argues that Babbitt and the others have failed to comply with the court’s September 13 order. In that order, the court ordered that privilege logs and certain documents be provided to the church by September 27.
It is not clear exactly what the church is claiming was not provided. It says privilege logs were provided but that they are “woefully lacking.” The church seems fixated on former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, and believes that privilege logs, detailed time sheets, as well as financial agreements, should have been provided. The problem is, the church’s claim about what Rinder should have provided ignores the court’s conclusions in its order. In the order, the court stated that Rinder was acting as a consultant and “bird dogging” for new clients; that little of what Rinder did, or his records, had anything to do with this case, and that even though the church claimed Rinder was disclosing internal confidential information he learned while with the church, there are no confidentiality agreements that the church has put in the record. The court also said the church’s demands were too broad.
But the church argues that it is “not credible” that the Rinder privilege logs do not contain “a thread of the privileged information and knowledge that Rinder obtained during his 25 years of service as head of legal affairs within the church.” The church also argues that Rinder’s time sheets are not detailed enough.
In a very puzzling sentence, the church, apparently lamenting the absence of such evidence, states that “two hours spent discussing church internal strategies and practices” are more important than “a five minute conversation.” Not only is this silly (the church apparently hopes the court will be dumb enough to believe that the church’s speculation about a Rinder conversation makes it a reality), it also ignores the language of the order regarding Rinder. The church wants Rinder held to an attorney’s standard, but the court said he is a consultant and he has little to do with the case. Since most of the disqualification effort hinges on Rinder, the church can’t afford to let him go. (It had hoped that Rathbun could be used, but the court made short work of that hope.) Therefore, ironically, the church ignores the majority of the order in its efforts to get the court to agree that Babbitt is in noncompliance with the order. The church wants Rinder (an ex-employee, not an attorney) treated as an attorney, and then it wants it shown that Rinder gave attorney-client privileged information to Babbitt. There is nothing backing these wishes, it’s all smoke. In fact, the church’s motion is based almost entirely on wishes, hopes, and desperation, and it is written as if the September 13 order didn’t exist. In short, the church is screaming that it still hasn’t been given any Rinder smoking guns, it is sure these smoking guns exist, that Babbitt is violating the court’s order by not giving the church smoking guns, and until it is given these smoking guns, it wants a continuance.
Based on the very short responses Babbitt gives the church in the attached emails (including a refusal to agree to a continuance), I think Babbitt knows the church is desperate. The hearing is approaching and it doesn’t have enough to make its case. All of the whining, finger pointing, and allegations about Rinder are simply indications that it doesn’t have much to prove its disqualification theories. The court told it that Rinder was a consultant, not an attorney, that his records had little to do with the case, that there was no confidentiality agreement in the record, and that the church had to focus on issues related to the case, and not make broad demands. Nonetheless, the church seems to ignore all of this, and instead continues to obsess about Rinder.
Here’s the motion from the church itself. We’ll try to find out this morning if the Thursday hearing is going to be moved or not.
Posted by Tony Ortega on October 2, 2013 at 07:00
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