We’ve got another explosive story for you today here at the Underground Bunker. It’s the first portion of a videotaped deposition former Church of Scientology executive Mark “Marty” Rathbun sat for last month in a federal fraud lawsuit against the church.
Rathbun spent 27 years in Scientology and was its “inspector general for ethics,” the second-highest ranking official in the organization. He was known as a ruthlessly effective enforcer who then became disaffected and left the group in 2004. Today, he’s considered one of the biggest threats to Scientology’s continued existence, and on December 22, for the first time since his defection, he sat for a deposition and was questioned by the church’s own attorneys.
It was a combative showdown.
There’s a lot to consider in what occurs as Scientology attorney Bert Deixler questions Rathbun, but first we’ll remind you why Rathbun found himself in the hot seat.
In January 2013 Luis and Rocio Garcia of Irvine, California filed suit against the Church of Scientology for fraud, alleging that they were lied to in order to convince them to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the organization’s various initiatives. An evidentiary hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for February 18 to hear Scientology’s motion to compel the Garcias to submit their claims to the church’s own internal arbitration and dismiss the lawsuit from civil court.
Judge James D. Whittemore has been very carefully setting up this hearing. He’s asked both sides to submit evidence about the nature of Scientology’s internal arbitration procedures. And witnesses on both sides have been scheduled for depositions.
The point of these depositions is to produce evidence that would help Judge Whittemore decide whether Scientology has a legitimate arbitration scheme and whether the Garcias should be forced to use it (former executives like Rathbun and Mike Rinder say Scientology’s arbitration is a sham and doesn’t really exist).
But as you’ll see, Deixler seems less interested in Scientology’s internal justice procedures than he is questioning Rathbun about his criticisms of Scientology leader David Miscavige.
After he resurfaced in 2008, Rathbun began a blog that was highly critical of Miscavige. Deixler repeatedly brings up things Rathbun has written about Miscavige, asking him if he bears a grudge or hates Miscavige. Rathbun repeatedly denies it. He’s also asked about his history in Scientology — about his communications with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, for example, and about his journey as a rising official in the organization. The segment ends with a dramatic confrontation as Rathbun is asked to read from a 1993 document and refuses.
This is the first time that we’ve seen Rathbun testifying under oath, but it was Scientology itself that first made public some of the material from this deposition, and in the strangest way possible.
On Friday, when Scientology placed its full-page ad in the New York Times attacking filmmaker Alex Gibney, we learned that the church had posted at its Freedom magazine website a series of letters that its spokeswoman Karin Pouw had sent to Gibney and HBO over a period of a couple of months.
The letters accuse Gibney of relying on tainted information from former church executives for his upcoming documentary, “Going Clear,” which is premiering next week at the Sundance Film Festival. Pouw says the people in Gibney’s film are unreliable or biased against her organization and its leader, Miscavige. And in her letter of December 24 to Gibney, she referred to Marty Rathbun’s deposition and revealed some of the things he had said…
Marty Rathbun, their self-appointed leader who boasts of being a source for your film, just this week under oath referred to Mr. Miscavige as “Hitler,” “Stalin” and “the Ayatollah Khomeini” — certainly not “personal experience” but disgusting hyperbole from a crazed individual obsessed with the leader of the religion.
Now that Scientology has made public some of what Rathbun said under oath, we managed to obtain his actual testimony, in the form of the first videotaped 49 minutes from his deposition.
Judge for yourself if Karin Pouw accurately reflected his testimony in her letter to Gibney…
One of our favorite moments in the deposition comes when Deixler sounds dumbfounded that Rathbun, who has only a high school diploma, was appointed in 1982 to be the director of Scientology legal affairs.
Rathbun: ..I think sometimes i represented myself as the head of the legal department of the Church of Scientology…
Deixler: The head of the legal department? Are you a lawyer, sir?
Deixler: Do you have any training, go to law school?
Deixler: Graduate from college?
We kept wondering when Deixler was going to realize that it was his own client, David Miscavige, who helped run Scientology in 1982 (and has completely ruled over it since Hubbard’s death in 1986) and put people like Rathbun in such positions.
Another interesting moment came when Deixler asked about Rathbun’s initial escape from Scientology for nine days in 1993. Deixler asked him why he left at that time.
“My reason for leaving was the recognition that David Miscavige was a complete narcissistic psychotic personality that had absolute control, and that Scientology really for him was all about him, really. And that there was really nothing within my power I could do, based on the way the whole system was set up, to really change that,” Rathbun testifies.
Deixler later asks Rathbun if he still thinks today of Miscavige as a “narcissistic psychotic.”
“He acts in a narcissistic and psychotic way for sure,” Rathbun answers. “I mean, spending $50 million to try to destroy me and my family? I think that’s pretty psychotic.”
Rathbun there is referring to the yearslong and intense surveillance of him and his wife over the past six years, as well as the huge costs Scientology is racking up in the lawsuit Rathbun’s wife, Monique, filed against Miscavige over that surveillance.
The segment ends at a dramatic moment, when Deixler and Rathbun clash over a 1993 document Deixler wants Rathbun to read into the record. We’re hoping to get further segments from our source and show them to you as soon as we can.
Having seen the segment, we’re not sure it supports Karin Pouw’s assertion that Rathbun is a “crazed individual obsessed with the leader” of Scientology rather than the other way around. And as for referring to Miscavige as Hitler, Stalin, and Khomeini, it’s Deixler that brings it up, not Rathbun.
We called Rathbun yesterday to ask him if he had a comment about the deposition.
“I think it speaks for itself in terms of who has ‘a crazed obsession’,” he said.
Previews for Allen Barton’s play Disconnection began Friday night, and we asked him how they’ve been going. He sent us this reply…
Previews have gone great — two packed houses of 80 people each, full of total strangers, which is unheard of. Previews for intimate theatre are usually 10 of your friends you’ve dragged out and given free tickets to just to get butts in the seats while you solve the final technical glitches that arise. Some interesting happenings as well: On the first night there was a couple in their 50s in front of me, and during the scene between the young married Sea Org couple, the woman suddenly seemed to pay attention to her partner, taking his hand, rubbing his back, looking at him — he seemed upset and they left at intermission. Another woman was clearly upset during the first act, and then when Act II hit and Oldman did the 8-page monologue, she started rocking back and forth and left the theatre in distress before the final scene. (I would love to know whether she was someone who is IN or someone who is OUT — so interesting that the reactions can be identical on either side of the equation.) On Saturday night, a gentleman came up to me at the end, introduced himself, and told me he had been declared suppressive in the last month, lost most of his friends and 80 percent of his business. He loved the play, and I congratulated him on being declared, saying, “All the best people have been.” Anyway, it’s been a great start, couldn’t be happier. Not everyone will love it, of course, but it certainly seems to impinge nicely, on both those in-the-know and those who don’t know anything about it. No harassment or disruption — I have a feeling HBO is providing a lot of cover for me and I’m sailing under the radar, at least for the moment.
Best part was a review by Skip Press (author and screenwriter) that was part of a comment chain in your Saturday post: “Speaking of the old days, last night I saw the first preview of Allen Barton’s DISCONNECTION at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Last time I was there was over 20 years ago, when Milton Katselas and Mario Feninger (who’s portrayed as a music teacher) were alive. [Ed. – Mario is still alive as far as I know] It’s the most hard-hitting dramatization of Scientology I’ve ever seen, and the portrayals [by] Robert L. Hughes as founder “Oldman” and Everette Wallin as “Chairman” are astonishingly good. Every single character in the play is excellent. This will be an award-winning play that, like Barton’s last one, will play in places around the world and is good enough for Broadway. If you’re in the LA area you MUST see it… It’s a world class piece of stagecraft with excellent actors….”
Thanks, Allen. We did see Skip’s note in Saturday’s post and were glad that he endorsed the show so fully. We have a feeling we’ll be seeing the play here in New York before too long!
Every week we like to show you some of the best Scientology fundraising fliers that have been sent to us by tipsters. Here’s this week’s batch!
Hey, unenlightened Angelenos, Ofra and Dali are just trying to salvage your crappy lives. Aren’t you glad they wrote a check they can’t really afford to give?
Hey, isn’t that one of the Valley Girls getting bronzed?
There’s nothing like Ron’s birthday…
Pam’s pulling out all the stops!
The Wilsons have given millions in the past. And all they could give this time was good enough for bronze? What gives?
And finally, did Nancy even bother to show up for this one?
Thanks again to our great tipsters!
Bonus photos from our tipsters
Remember that ad we saw for a Cher impersonator at a Scientology fundraiser? Well…
Scientologists are using social media more than ever. Drop us a line if you spot them posting images to Instagram or Facebook!
7 days until Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief opens at the Sundance Film Festival at 2:30 pm on Sunday, January 25 in Park City, Utah
Posted by Tony Ortega on January 18, 2015 at 07:00
E-mail your tips and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts