UPDATE: Judge Dib Waldrip has decided that Scientology leader David Miscavige will be deposed in Monique’s lawsuit. See our new story for the latest updates.
Monique Rathbun’s harassment lawsuit against Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige, resumes today in the Comal County courthouse in New Braunfels, Texas, and we should be getting dispatches from both Mike Bennitt and Derek Bloch.
Judge Dib Waldrip will continue to consider Monique’s request for a continuance — a delay in the case — so she can depose Miscavige, who has asked to be let out of the suit because he says the court has no jurisdiction over him. And that means both sides will continue to argue whether Miscavige was the kind of hands-on leader who would have obsessed over every aspect of the years of surveillance and harassment Monique and her husband Mark “Marty” Rathbun experienced (Monique’s version of events) or Miscavige’s version, that he’s the spiritual leader of a thriving church and had nothing to do with the surveillance that was being run by one of Scientology’s entities he has little do with.
Since Wednesday, Waldrip may have had the chance to plow through voluminous declarations and affidavits that Monique’s team put into evidence last week, as well as equally voluminous objections to that evidence that Scientology filed on Wednesday.
And there’s another major issue that Monique is asking to delay — Scientology’s anti-SLAPP motion, which accuses Monique of filing a bullying court action designed to infringe Scientology’s free speech rights. We now have Monique’s answer to that motion, and it’s an interesting one.
As our attorney friend Scott Pilutik pointed out, it’s awfully ironic for Scientology — a legendary bully — to file the kind of motion that is supposed to help a little guy fend off a harassing lawsuit by a big, well-heeled adversary. And in her motion, Monique makes the same point.
But we were especially intrigued by two pieces of evidence that Monique submitted to bolster her point that the 2011 harassment campaign, featuring the “Squirrel Busters” crew that said it was filming a documentary about the Rathbuns, was really just an intimidation squad sent by Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs (OSA Int.). The first is an e-mail from Squirrel Buster Ed Bryan reporting to Scientology about the operation…
This is in co-ordination with OSA Int. They are calling the shots and quite frankly I don’t think it is very effective. The reporters came to our house the other day and we didn’t tell them very much. Our main guy went back to discuss with them a different strategy. The rat [Marty Rathbun] is getting more brazen and yesterday I actually had a 1 minute comm cycle [conversation] with him while he was on a walk. The guy is nuttier than a fruitcake. He’s gone off the deep end. Taking him down will be no easy task.
The second is an e-mail sent from Scientology to one of the Squirrel Busters, Joanne Wheaton, who was seen so prominently recently in a British documentary, Scientologists at War…
You should brief the SQBs [Squirrel Busters] on the following: …go right on telling him [Rathbun] that he is not a Scientologist, that he is a suppressive person, that we love and totally support COB [Miscavige] and all he is doing for Scientology, that Rathbun is a complete disgrace, is an insane psychotic squirrel whose entire purpose is to destroy the tech. He is anti-Scientology as all his actions show. That’s the viewpoint they need to have. We love COB and hate SP squirrels like you….
That seems to be a pretty devastating piece of evidence that severely undercuts Scientology’s position, that the Squirrel Busters — who were demonstrating outside the Rathbun home for 199 days in 2011 — were simply parishioners who had taken it upon themselves to protest the religious views of Marty Rathbun. Instead, they bolster what Bert Leahy reported after he spent a few days working with the Squirrel Busters as a freelance videographer and heard Dave Lubow, the Scientology private investigator running the operation, tell the crew to “make Marty’s life a living hell.”
Monique seems to be making a strong case that she was the victim of a harassment campaign which was highly coordinated by the Church of Scientology, and for Scientology now to claim it’s the victim of a bullying lawsuit is pretty far-fetched.
But again, before Judge Waldrip can get to the anti-SLAPP motion, he first has to wrestle with the jurisdictional matter of Miscavige’s request to be let out of the lawsuit. We really don’t know whether Waldrip will be able to resolve that today. Both sides seem ready to argue at great length about it. When we get communications about what’s going on, we’ll post it below.
Posted by Tony Ortega on December 13, 2013 at 07:00
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Mike Bennitt and Derek Bloch are in position at the courtroom, and it sounds like things are going to begin shortly.
Derek says that there’s a delay this morning because Judge Dib Waldrip is still taking care of some matters in drug court this morning.
WALDRIP: MISCAVIGE WILL BE DEPOSED
RAY JEFFREY ASKS FOR THE DEPOSITION OF SHELLY MISCAVIGE
BOTH SIDES AGREE TO A “LIVE WRITTEN” DEPOSITION OF DAVID MISCAVIGE. TIMING TO BE WORKED OUT
Would have got those updates in a little earlier, but we were walking the dog when Derek’s texts started coming in. Whew. Still out of breath after the run back to the bunker.
So apparently Judge Waldrip did agree that there was enough evidence to convince him that David Miscavige could be deposed for the jurisdictional question.
The church then threatened to appeal — but would drop that notion if Monique’s side would agree to a written deposition. Make it a LIVE written deposition and you’re on, Ray answered.
We’re waiting to get details on what that means, exactly. Also, some timing will be worked out after the recess. As soon as we know more, we’ll post something.
Mike Bennitt: Ray Jeffrey enters motion to depose Shelly Miscavige
Derek now saying that Ray did not actually submit a motion to depose Shelly Miscavige. Also, it sounds like the church is pushing back on the David Miscavige deposition now…
The church is asking for a stay of deposition for an appeal, but Waldrip is only giving them a single week. Trying to get clearer information.
Derek says that Waldrip is giving Scientology until 5 pm next Friday to appeal the order for a deposition.
Derek: Heated exchange between Ray Jeffrey and Miscavige’s attorney over Miscavige’s schedule, which the church had submitted.
Derek: Ricardo Cedillo (CSI’s attorney) had given David Miscavige’s schedule through March 31 to Lamont Jefferson (Miscavige’s attorney) and they decided to put it on the record. (Probably to make it look like Miscavige was too busy to be deposed.) But then, after they came back from the recess, after they had talked over the deposition order, they asked for Miscavige’s schedule back (right after Monique Yingling had passed them a note).
Lamont stood up: My client requests that we withdraw the schedule because it’s a security risk.
When Waldrip asked if that was all right, Jeffrey said he didn’t even have a copy. Give me a copy and then withdraw it. But then Cedillo got in Ray’s face and it got really heated.
Ultimately, Derek says, the church caved and agreed to give Ray a copy of the schedule but withdraw it from the court record.
Derek. On the subject of deposing Shelly Miscavige — Ray was dangling a written document, but hadn’t submitted it yet.
Lamont Jefferson then agreed to have David Miscavige deposed as long as it wasn’t too intrusive, Derek says.
So it looks like Ray used the threat of a Shelly Miscavige deposition to make the church roll over on having DM deposed. Wow.
Derek: The judge asked, anything else for today? Court half emptied out, THEN Lamont Jefferson asked for a stay to get an appeal. Ray looked surprise, and so did the Judge, because they’d just said they wouldn’t appeal.
Can we get a stay from you, Jefferson asked. Waldrip gave them only a week.
Since the church went back on the agreement to have a written deposition in return for no appeal, we are waiting to hear from Ray what kind of deposition he’s asking for now.
Derek, you were awesome. Thank you for this information.
OK, we’ve talked to Ray Jeffrey. He’s cleared up some things that apparently our court observers perceived incorrectly.
We’re going to start a new story with the latest information in a few minutes.
New story is up.
Key point: Miscavige has been ordered to give a normal deposition, not only written.