That was the first day of a crucial hearing regarding Scientology’s “anti-SLAPP” motion. A week earlier, Scientology had been ordered to turn over any evidence it had in the form of video or photographs produced in the church’s years-long surveillance of Monique and her husband Mark ‘Marty’ Rathbun. As a result of that order, the church turned over a terabyte of video on an external drive, with hours and hours of surveillance footage.
Despite the volume of that evidence, Monique’s attorneys came to court on February 3 with a surprise. One of the segments of video that the church turned over was about a minute and a half long, had no audio track, and showed Monique Rathbun being filmed pulling into her driveway.
Monique’s attorney, Ray Jeffrey, told Comal County Judge Dib Waldrip that they had their own source for that particular segment, and it was 10 minutes long, contained an audio track, and showed that police were called to the location, and included Scientology’s videographers struggling to explain why they were following Monique, a woman who had never been a member of the Church of Scientology.
It was a damning revelation. When they submitted the 10-minute version of the video, Monique’s attorneys showed definitively that Scientology was selectively holding back evidence that might be harmful to its case. Judge Waldrip dressed down Scientology’s attorney, Ricardo Cedillo, telling him that it was his job to turn over everything the church was asked for, and not to edit it.
Now, we have that 10-minute video that Scientology apparently didn’t want the court to see.
We’ve already seen some Internet misinformation about the video, and when a small portion of it was shown on a San Antonio television station recently, it wasn’t really explained very well, so we want to make sure our readers understand what they’re seeing.
The video you’re going to see was shot in 2010, in Ingleside by the Bay, Texas, where Marty and Monique Rathbun were living at a house on Woodhaven Drive. (This was before they moved into another house in Ingleside by the Bay where the “Squirrel Busters” first confronted them in April 2011.)
At the very beginning of the video, we see a brief moment with Marty Rathbun and a law enforcement officer after they had confronted Scientology’s videographers. Then the video cuts, and the church’s hired men are positioned outside the Rathbun driveway, filming as Monique arrives. She then calls the police, and most of the segment shows the hired operatives trying to convince a cop that they are making a “documentary.”
What the video doesn’t show is that while Monique was on her own at the Woodhaven Drive home, Marty Rathbun had been with Mike Rinder, Christie Collbran, and John Brousseau as they were meeting with BBC reporter John Sweeney, who was in town making his 2010 Panorama film, “The Secrets of Scientology.” It was a followup to his 2007 Panorama episode, “Scientology and Me.”
The Scientology-hired videographer and his partner tell a local police officer that they are working for Elliot Abelson and with a private investigator named Monty Drake (who today is a defendant in Monique’s lawsuit). Elliot Abelson is a longtime lawyer for the church.
We’ve posted this video in the past, but we’ll show it again — when Mike Rinder was interviewed by Mark Bunker, he said that operatives were trained to say they were working for Abelson, when they were really getting their orders directly from church officials…
The video of Monique was filmed about a year before the Squirrel Busters showed up and started doing daily protests outside the home of the Rathbuns. But the point Monique’s team wants to make with this video is that there is no “free speech” fight going on here. It was made by an odd organization that was paying lawyers, private investigators, videographers and other operatives to stalk the wife of a former member — a women who had never said anything publicly about Scientology.
We look forward to hearing your impressions of the video.
Judge Dib Waldrip has the next 29 days to come up with a decision regarding Scientology’s anti-SLAPP motion. The church has tried to convince him that it is engaged in a war of ideas with Marty Rathbun, and that its years of surveilling him and his wife were legitimate forms of free speech. Monique, who was never a member of the church, argues that she didn’t deserve to go through years of being stalked with cameras, interrupted at her work, and pursued as she moved several times across the state. Our experts have pointed out numerous times that an anti-SLAPP motion is a tool used to fend off the bullying actions of a well-heeled plaintiff, and its use in this case is highly ironic, given Scientology’s reputation for well-heeled bullying.
As we wait for Waldrip’s decision, we’re expecting that Ray Jeffrey, Monique’s attorney, may re-file a motion for sanctions. Otherwise, the additional issues in the case — an order allowing Monique Rathbun to depose church leader David Miscavige, jurisdictional questions about Miscavige’s request to be dropped from the suit, and converting the temporary restraining order into a temporary injunction — will continue to be on hold until the anti-SLAPP motion is resolved.
Also, as we expected he would, Scientology’s attorney Wallace Jefferson (formerly the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court) on Friday filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, hoping to derail Judge Waldrip’s order that David Miscavige could be deposed. We’re waiting to see if the Texas Third Court of Appeals will allow the petition and grant Jefferson the ability to file for the writ. We’re checking with Ray Jeffrey today to see what he knows about it. (There is a large file of documents that Scientology filed with the appeals court — but it’s mostly stuff we posted earlier.)
For the curious, here’s the filing Scientology submitted in support of its petition. If you’ve been following the case, you’ll be familiar with the declarations filed by Allan Cartwright, Warren McShane, etc. There is a transcript of one of the hearings which we reported on, and now you can read Ricardo Cedillo’s mind-numbing detail for yourself…
Posted by Tony Ortega on February 19, 2014 at 07:00
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