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REVERSE WARRIOR: Brian Culkin Hires Ray Jeffrey, Blasts Scientology in Court Filing

Last week, the Church of Scientology claimed in a filing to federal Judge James Whittemore that it needed to depose Boston resident Brian Culkin in Massachusetts because the yoga teacher was too afraid to attend an evidentiary hearing scheduled for September 26 in Tampa, Florida.

Culkin feared for his life, the church said, because of nasty comments made at this blog and other reactions after Culkin signed a declaration that the church used to complicate a federal fraud lawsuit brought against the church by Luis and Rocio Garcia of Irvine, California.

But now Culkin has hired San Antonio attorney Ray Jeffrey, who has won two recent high-profile cases against Scientology, and Jeffrey has filed a scathing letter that may have left Scientology’s motion in tatters.

The letter is attached as an exhibit to a briefing filed by attorney Ted Babbitt, who says the Garcias object to Scientology’s assertion that Culkin’s deposition had to take place in Boston, under the supervision of a special master, and only with Scientology’s questions.

But the real fireworks are in the letter by Ray Jeffrey, which accuses Scientology of outrageous conduct. In his briefing, Babbitt calls for sanctions based on what Jeffrey reveals.

Jeffrey’s letter is addressed to Wally Pope — the church’s attorney — as well as Babbitt and Ronald Weil, the two attorneys for the Garcias that the church is trying to get disqualified. The church had filed a motion accusing Babbitt and Weil of improperly employing an attorney, Robert Johnson, who had previously worked for Scientology. The church’s main piece of evidence was the declaration by Brian Culkin, who was a member of the church for about a year and had donated $350,000 in that short time. In return for a refund, Culkin signed his declaration in March, but now he’s saying that he was misled when the church used it to attack the Garcias’ federal fraud lawsuit. And the church has also misled the public, Jeffrey alleges, by pretending that Culkin is in fear of testifying. To the contrary, he will show up in Tampa to be heard…

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Dear Counsel,

Please be advised that I represent Brian Culkin. The Scientology defendants have dragged him against his will into the above-referenced litigation. They have misused a declaration he signed as part of a confidential exit interview. Exit interviews and privileged documentation are routine in Scientology. Before he signed the declaration, Mr. Culkin was assured by Sarah Heller that it was for the Church’s “internal use only”.

Mr. Culkin was not represented by counsel in his confidential exit interview. He has no legal training or expertise. If he had been informed that his declaration might be used against the plaintiffs in this case, or in some other adversarial way, he would have refused to sign it. The Scientology defendants violated his rights of confidentiality by filing the declaration in this suit without his informed consent. As the Scientology defendants know all too well, Mr. Culkin wants no part in controversies, disputes, or proceedings with the Church.

By their deceptive actions in connection with this suit, the Scientology defendants have caused Mr. Culkin considerable mental anguish. He feels betrayed by their public violation of trust and by their use of factual distortions in their pleadings. They have publicly given the appearance that Mr. Culkin supports them in their attack on the plaintiffs’ legal team in this case. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Culkin respects those individuals and is unaware of any wrongdoing on their part.

The Scientology defendants’ motion to take Mr. Culkin’s deposition is designed to give the impression that he is unwilling to testify because of intimidation by the plaintiffs, their legal team, and their sympathizers. This is false.

As the Scientology defendants know, Mr. Culkin’s distress and anger was with the Scientology defendants. He complained to them in the strongest possible terms about their outrageous, inexcusable behavior. The public outcry against Mr. Culkin was a direct result of the Scientology defendants’ public misuse of confidential information. Mr. Culkin demanded a public apology from the Scientology defendants. Instead of making an apology, they have continued to publicy misstate and mischaracterize his position. After being thrust against his will into this suit by the Scientology defendants, he understandably rebuffed their request for him to testify on their behalf.

I am writing to make clear, in response to the Scientology defendants’ motion, that Mr. Culkin will appear to testify, in court or at deposition, as a reluctant, but independent witness. Any party may subpoena him or, if the Scientology defendants agree, he will appear voluntarily. Contrary to the Scientology defendants’ motion, Mr. Culkin is willing to travel to Florida if his reasonable expenses are paid. We request that the parties or the Court allocate the expenses in such a way that no party may be said to be influencing his testimony.

We await your response.

Very truly yours,

Ray B. Jeffrey

 
It’s a stunning document, and a reminder of the thrashing that Ray Jeffrey has given Scientology in the past. Last February, he represented Debbie Cook when the former church official was sued by Scientology because she dared to write an e-mail questioning the leadership of David Miscavige. The church ended up paying her a large settlement to end its own lawsuit after she spent a day in a San Antonio courtroom giving devastating testimony about the treatment of fallen executives in Scientology’s office-prison for executives, “The Hole.”

Jeffrey then represented two former church private investigators who had followed one man — Pat Broeker, who Miscavige had pushed out of power following the death of L. Ron Hubbard — for 24 years, then were fired. That lawsuit also ended in a settlement, but not until after the men gave us one of the wildest interviews we’ve ever published.

Now Jeffrey has swooped in and is throwing a wrench into the church’s attempt to get the attorneys for the Garcias disqualified.

Also, on Friday, the Garcia team filed an objection to the subpoenas that Scientology has issued under the motion to disqualify Babbitt and Weil. Calling the subpoenas “indefensibly overbroad,” Babbitt writes that the church is going far beyond trying to gather information for the motion and is asking for any communications between any of the people on the plaintiffs’ side going back to 2007.

Writes Babbitt: “Communications among the individuals subpoenaed are not only irrelevant and/or protected from discovery pursuant to the doctrines of work-product and attorney-client privilege, but the efforts required by Plaintiffs and their counsel which Defendants seek to trigger by the Subpoenas are unnecessary and, as such, burdensome and harassing.”

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on July 15, 2013 at 17:15

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