Previously, Comal County Judge Dib Waldrip had granted Monique’s request for a continuance so she could have the time to depose Miscavige, who wants out of the lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds.
On Tuesday, Scientology filed a motion for reconsideration, trying once again to keep Miscavige from being questioned. This time, they’ve asked Judge Waldrip to go ahead and rule on Miscavige’s “special appearance” request to be dropped from the suit now, based on several depositions which have already taken place.
One of those, with former Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis, was taken on December 4. Davis was combative in the deposition and denied that David Miscavige had anything to do with Davis’s activities in Texas. So now, Scientology itself has attached the Davis deposition and several others in its motion to reconsider.
The motion itself is a typical Scientology move: Judge Waldrip just got done deciding, after considerable testimony, that Monique is entitled to depose Miscavige to determine his involvement in Scientology’s harassment of her. (Monique and her husband, Mark ‘Marty’ Rathbun, who was a former top official of the church working directly with Miscavige, insist that Miscavige is intimately involved in every aspect of Scientology, including retaliation against former members. The church counters that Miscavige is an ecclesiastical leader with no involvement in day-to-day church matters or litigation.)
More interesting is the deposition of Davis itself. Formerly a highly visible spokesman for Scientology, he had numerous memorable experiences on national and international television shows. He’s also the son of actress Anne Archer. But in 2011 he seemed to vanish. We later reported that he’d turned up in Austin, Texas, where he’s been the last two years.
Questioned by Monique’s attorney, Ray Jeffrey, Tommy said that he remains a member of the Sea Org, but on leave. And almost immediately, he began playing semantic games with Jeffrey
“I am not, nor have I ever been, an employee of the Church of Scientology,” Davis said. Which is technically true because of the (purposely) Byzantine nature of Scientology’s corporate structure.
Davis said he was merely a volunteer with the church who received a small weekly stipend. He’s working now for Colony Capital, a private equity firm that trades in real estate. He has done no work for the church in the last two years.
Jeffrey said that Miscavige’s attorney, Monique Yingling, had told him that Tommy left because his wife Jessica Feshbach had cancer, but Tommy refused to answer that question. (We’ve heard from a family source that Jessica was not sick.) Jessica is also on a leave of absence, Tommy testified.
Tommy indicated that the Church of Scientology International (CSI) had hired his attorney for the deposition.
He said he had started his work for the church in January 1991 at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre as executive assistant to Karen Hollander, CC president. Eventually he became senior vice president of the CC, and then in 2007 began working for CSI as its chief spokesman. He requested his leave of absence in June 2011.
Much of the deposition was very combative as Jeffrey tried to get Tommy to answer even very simple questions. Here’s a sample of the back and forth, with attorney objections removed for clarity.
Jeffrey: What was the substance of the story in 2009 that you had to handle as the chief spokesman for the Church of Scientology International that was initially broken by the St. Pete Times?
Davis: If I’m to understand your question, you’re asking me to comment on a well-documented piece of media. And if that’s the case, then if you want to produce it, I’ll review it and I’ll tell you what it said.
Jeffrey: I just want to know what you know and what you did in your job. You were responding on behalf of the Church of Scientology International and any other involved entities and persons concerning certain allegations at the top of the Church of Scientology. What were those allegations?
Davis: Well, your — your question was prefaced with a statement of something that you’re saying that I did or who I am or what my job is. So then it’s not really a question. You’re kind of putting words in my mouth. So if you have a specific question about something that doesn’t require me to regurgitate something that’s already public record and has been regurgitated over and over and over again by many news outlets, then ask me that question. As far as retelling you what’s already in the media, I don’t see the value in that and I don’t even think that’s why I’m here.
Jeffrey: So you’re refusing to answer the question?
Davis: Well, you have yet to ask me a question that I feel I’m capable of answering. So I’m not refusing to answer any question because I haven’t been asked a question that I can answer.
Jeffrey: As the chief spokesperson for the Church of Scientology International in 2009, what was the substance or gist of the story that was carried in the media concerning David Miscavige, RTC, and the Church of Scientology International?
Davis: With all due respect, I spent many weeks dealing with many inquiries from a relatively large news organization on a very wide range of subjects. So I…
Jeffrey: OK. Let me see if I can help you. Did the news story that you had to respond to involve David Miscavige physically beating executives of the Church of Scientology International, the Celebrity Centre entity, whatever it’s called, and RTC? I’m not asking you to agree that that happened. I’m asking if that was what you were being asked about.
Davis: I don’t know. Maybe I’m a little thick, Mr. Jeffries. But I’m having an awfully hard time tracking with these sort of compound questions. Maybe you could make it a little simpler for me.
Jeffrey: You can keep playing this game all day and we’ll be back here taking this deposition again. What were you responding to as the chief spokesperson for the Church of Scientology back in ’09 concerning Mr. Rathbun, Amy Scobee, and others who had left the Church of Scientology? That is not a difficult question and you’re not a dumb man. OK? Let’s go. Give me an answer.
Davis: I — am I losing it? I’m not — I don’t understand what he’s asking me. I don’t know how to answer your question. I got a lot of questions from the St. Petersburg Times on a wide range of subjects. I have yet to have you say to me something that specifically comports with questions I was asked. I had many allegations leveled…
Jeffrey: OK. You don’t need to filibuster. [Has the question read back by the court reporter.]
Davis: Sir, there were allegations made by people.
Jeffrey: And you responded to them?
Davis: And those allegations were forwarded to me by the St. Petersburg Times. And because they were just allegations, they were always prefaced as allegations. And I responded to those, among many other questions.
Davis: I am not saying that what you just asked me is the case or otherwise. I’m saying I responded to allegations. If you’re asking me about specifics of what I was asked and what ultimately appeared in print, as I said, we could pull it out, we could look at it, and we can talk about it. Beyond that, I’m not in a position to talk about it.
Jeffrey: Well, we can do that. But I’ll guarantee you you’re not making any airplane reservations. You literally want me to go back and get every newspaper article, every television interview, and go over those with you and see if you can remember them? I asked you a simple question, Mr. Davis…As the chief spokesperson for the Church of Scientology International in 2009, did you respond to media inquiries concerning allegations of, among other things, David Miscavige physically beating executives of the Church of Scientology International, RTC, and other church entities?…Did you respond to allegations that David Miscavige had imprisoned, on the — what’s called the Gold Base in California, executives of the Church of Scientology International, RTC, and other church entities in something called the Hole?
Davis: I responded to many false allegations. I don’t recall specifically every single one that was made to me.
Eventually, sometime later, Tommy said that he did remember dealing with allegations of violence — but they were about Marty Rathbun, not Miscavige…
Davis: My recollection of my time with the St. Pete Times was having to detail for them the extensive cruelty, bullying, violence, and general mayhem which was conducted by your client. And I recall that very specifically and don’t need any notes to remember those incidents.
After denying that there were any connections between Colony Capital and Scientology, Tommy then responded to a question agreements with the church that was operating under.
Davis: Various agreements that I signed during my period of working for the church. I can’t recall what or which or how many or the specificity of them. But they would certainly involve confidentiality, for example.
He denied, however, that he received any compensation when he left, and has received no pay over the last two years.
Jeffrey eventually got Tommy to acknowledge that he dealt with questions of Miscavige’s alleged abuse of his employees. So then Jeffrey wanted to know what his communications were like with Miscavige about that.
Davis said there was no direct communication with Miscavige about it, but he did “investigate” the claims of violence — but without communicating with Miscavige.
Jeffrey: What kind of investigation is it that you do concerning the allegations against an individual committing violence and imprisonment of others and you never interview the subject of the investigation?
Davis: I don’t know how to answer that. Could you maybe make it multiple choice?
After more delaying, Jeffrey finally got him to answer the question:
Davis: I don’t recall specifically having any conversations with Mr. Miscavige on a matter such as this. I never felt the need to because not then, not now, and I seriously doubt ever in the future have I ever encountered a single person who was in any way, shape, or form involved in the kind of allegations that were made against Mr. Miscavige, not — I couldn’t find anybody who could verify what was being leveled against him because — and therefore I concluded that the allegations being made against him were not true.
Jeffrey: Wow. I may print that one up and frame it and put it on my wall.
Jeffrey then moved on to the set of Blackberry texts between Tommy, Mike Rinder, and David Miscavige which were featured in John Sweeney’s book, Church of Fear. Jeffrey asked him if he’d read the book.
Davis: No. I don’t read books that people write about me or my religion. I don’t need to read what somebody says about what I already know.
He denied knowing about any text messages.
Jeffrey then moved on to an incident in South Texas in 2010. Scientology employee John Brousseau had escaped from the church’s International Base in California and had driven to Corpus Christi, intending to visit Marty Rathbun the next day. But at 5:30 that morning. Tommy Davis and three other church officials showed up at JB’s hotel room at 5:30 in the morning. We wrote about this strange scene more than a year ago.
Rathbun and Rinder tell us that Tommy’s emergency trip to Texas was a classic Scientology “blow drill,” and it would have been ordered by Miscavige. But Miscavige, in his attempt to get out of Monique’s lawsuit, has submitted a sworn declaration that he has done no business in Texas at all. So who sent Tommy Davis to Texas?
In the deposition, Tommy acknowledged that he flew by private jet, paid for by the Church of Scientology International. With him were church officials Angie Blankenship, Bob Wright, and Laurence Stumbke. Meanwhile, another set of Scientologists had been positioned at Marty Rathbun’s house. They included former Tom Cruise personal assistant Michael Doven, actor Michael Roberts, and the president of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Jan Eastgate. (CCHR is Scientology’s virulently anti-psychiatry front group.)
Jeffrey: OK. And so why were you there?
Davis: Because JB was my friend and I wanted to see him. I didn’t understand why he was doing what he was doing.
Jeffrey: And what was he doing?
Davis: Picking up and vanishing with no apparent explanation and appearing in close proximity with someone who was viciously attacking my friends and my church and my religion.
Jeffrey: And David Miscavige?
Davis: Yeah. He’s a friend of mine as well.
Jeffrey: OK. And so what were you wanting to accomplish?
Davis: I wanted to find out what was up, why JB had done that, why he had taken off, what was wrong, what happened. I had just seen him not 36 hours or — or maybe a bit more — a couple of days before, and he stopped me and had given me a big hug and asked me how I was doing and we had this great conversation. And it was stunning. It made no sense. I didn’t understand it, especially with someone that I considered to be such a good friend.
Jeffrey: Is JB the — the only person that has abruptly taken off and left the Church of Scientology International or Religious Technology Center or any of the other Scientology corporations?
Davis: No, he is not the only person who has ever done that.
Jeffrey: Have you ever gone to see any other of your friends that have taken off abruptly because you wanted to find out what was going on?
So Tommy was just there to see a friend. And that’s why he flew in the middle of the night on a private jet paid for by Scientology. Also, Warren McShane, another church official, told the Riverside Sheriff’s Office that he had sent Davis on a mission to bring JB back. But Tommy said he was unaware of the McShane document.
Then, Jeffrey had another document for Tommy to look at.
Jeffrey: Mr. Davis, what is Exhibit 1 to your deposition?
Davis: A couple of pieces of paper with handwriting on them.
Jeffrey: OK. Is that your handwriting?
Davis: It is.
Jeffrey: And so is it a note that you wrote to John Brousseau and slipped under his door on the day of this communication we’ve been talking about?
Davis: It is.
Jeffrey: OK. Would you please — your — your handwriting’s way better than mine. But would you pleasse just read Exhibit 1 into the record for us?
Davis: “JB, this is nuts. We just want to talk. We’re here to resolve whatever is going on but you do need to understand the consequences of what has been done and what you’ve gotten yourself into personally. We have with us docs you have previously signed and which place you at risk. We mean you no ill will and we are not here to persuade you to come back. Rather, we hope we can reach an understanding whereby you abide by the covenants you have signed and that we will refrain from further contact. We’re here because we’re your friends and wanted to help you do the least amoung of damage to yourself and to Scientology. We’ve come a long way to talk to you and have approached you in a straightforward way. I’m going to call you in — wow — I’m going to call you in room in five minutes so we can talk. We can end and resolve this simply and now so let’s just talk”
Davis: I wrote this note after he refused to speak with me. I spoke to him in person and he went back into his room and closed and locked the door and wouldn’t answer it. And after a period of time, I wrote this note and put it under his door.
Jeffrey: And what did he tell you?
Davis: He said, “I don’t want to talk about it. I have nothing to say to you. I like you.” Actually, I think he said he — if I recall, I remember him saying that he loved me and that he considered me a really good friend and that he was really sorry. And he just kind of kept saying various versions of that more than once.
Jeffrey: Did he tell you that — that he couldn’t handle any longer being on — in the Scientology compound where people were being beaten and imprisoned in this thing called the Hole? Did he tell you that?
Davis: I just told you what he said to me and that is what he said to me. He did not say anything along the lines of what you just stated.
Jeffrey pointed out that JB worked for RTC, and directly with Miscavige. So who authorized Tommy — a CSI employee — to go down there and try to bring an RTC employee back?
Davis: I was a staff member of CSI. I was working as a CSI staff member.
Jeffrey: Now, as you did this work down in Texas to make sure that John Brousseau kept with the contracts and covenants that he had signed, what communication was going to David Miscavige back in California, or wherever he was, concerning your success or lack thereof?
Davis: I have no knowledge of any communication to Mr. Miscavige.
Jeffrey: So there you were on this rather important mission to South Texas and you don’t know whether or not Mr. Miscavige was closely following that mission or not?
Davis: I have no information that would indicate that he was.
It’s pretty clear what Ray Jeffrey was doing here. He was establishing that Tommy was not only combative, but that his answers don’t make much sense when seen in context. And that’s another reason why it’s important to depose Miscavige directly to get at what his involvement is with Scientology’s “blow drills” and retaliation campaigns.
But Scientology’s attorneys are submitting Davis’s deposition because they want it to be read literally — Tommy went to Texas on his own, and Miscavige had nothing to do with anything.
With his remaining time, Jeffrey asked about the missing wife of Scientology’s leader, Shelly Miscavige, but Davis denied that he communicated with her at this time. And he said he didn’t know where she was today. And when Ray asked about the claim that he told actress Leah Remini “You don’t have the fucking rank to ask about Shelly” at the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in 2006, his attorneys ordered him not to answer.
Miscavige’s attorney, Lamont Jefferson, then led Tommy through a breezy set of questions and answers about how David Miscavige is an ecclesiastical leader with no day-to-day involvement in church matters. And that Tommy had only communicated with church officials Linda Hamel and Warren McShane about things in Texas.
Jeffrey then got another chance, and asked Tommy if he was aware of the Guardian’s Office and its past. Tommy’s attorneys object to the question.
Jeffrey: Was Linda Hamel a member of the Guardian’s Office of the Church of Scientology International?
Davis: I don’t know.
Jeffrey: Was Warren McShane a member of the Guardian’s Office of the Church of Scientology International?
Davis: I don’t know.
Jeffrey: Was Neil O’Reilly a member of the Guardian’s Office of the Church of Scientology International?
Davis: I do not know.
Jeffrey: Was Allen Cartwright a member of the Guardian’s Office of the Church of Scientology International?
Davis: I don’t know.
Jeffrey: Are you aware that David Miscavige has sworn under oath that the church makes it — takes great care to make sure that those involved with improper activities of the Guardian’s Office are removed from the Church of Scientology and that — that the errors of the Guardian’s Office not be allowed to be repeated? Are you aware of that?
Davis: You seem to be regurgitating to me something that you read or heard somewhere. If you’re reciting something specific, I’d appreciate if you’d show it to me. Otherwise, I don’t understand why I’m being asked this.
Well, we figured that Tommy was going to be combative. But we didn’t expect that Scientology itself would submit his testimony on its behalf.
We expect another explosive set of documents to be filed soon. And next week, hearings on these matters.
Scientology will continue to try to keep David Miscavige out of a deposition. But Judge Waldrip has already decided Monique deserves his testimony. Can the church really talk him out of that?
Posted by Tony Ortega on January 2, 2014 at 13:07
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