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Black hearts and burning crosses: Scientology litigation is getting weird in Texas


We asked the very talented Observer to create for us a fun take on the meme that has grabbed hold of the Bunker this week after we learned about how the phrase “black heart” came up during a court hearing in New Braunfels, Texas.

Since more media is starting to pay attention to this lawsuit (and getting some things wrong), we’ll try to give a quick sum-up. Monique Rathbun is suing the Church of Scientology, its leader David Miscavige, some of the church’s private investigators and other defendants, claiming that she was harassed for several years with surveillance, interference with her job, and pranks that included a dildo being mailed to her place of work. And all because she is married to Mark ‘Marty’ Rathbun, who was once the second-highest ranking official in Scientology and worked directly with Miscavige. Marty defected from the church in 2004, started a blog critical of Miscavige in 2009, and the Rathbuns then became subject of the surveillance and harassing protests — which Scientology has admitted to being behind. But Scientology argues (in something called an ‘anti-SLAPP motion’) that the lawsuit should be thrown out of court because its use of private eyes to follow Marty and Monique was part of a religious dispute with the Rathbuns and should be protected as free speech.

As the Church of Scientology International’s attorney Ricardo Cedillo put it in court Wednesday, it doesn’t matter if his client has a “black heart,” what matters is that it’s a religious dispute that the courts shouldn’t be involved in.

(Monique’s side points out that she was never a member of Scientology, and she didn’t deserve to be photographed, followed, and otherwise harassed for years simply because the church didn’t like her husband’s blog.)

Photographer Mike Bennitt tells us that several times during the day, Ricardo Cedillo made the point that even if his client had a “black heart,” it wouldn’t matter because Scientology’s anti-SLAPP motion was not about motives or intent.


Mike managed to capture one instance of Cedillo using the phrase while his camera was rolling, but he tells us Cedillo said it again when he was prevented from filming.


Here’s the best transcription we could make of what Cedillo is saying through the first portion of this clip…

The issues that the anti-SLAPP zeroed in on … are purely legal matters.

They want to — all you’ve heard is, he’s alluding to, I can show you smoking guns and say that, you know, they have a black heart and black… uh, malice in their hearts.

Judge, the case law, it couldn’t be clearer. The motivation, the intent, none of that matters on the … side. I can allude very quickly to it. You think those Ku Klux Klan and those Nazis that are burning crosses don’t have black motives in their hearts to cause pain to Jews and blacks and Catholics? Of course they do.

And the Supreme Court of the United States has said, that we as a society have made certain elections on the freedoms of expression, and in spite of that malice existing, and it doesn’t — he’s making all that up.

But even if you want to entertain the argument that it does, your honor, proper application of Supreme Court law says that that doesn’t matter.

As you watch Cedillo in action, you can understand why people who were there tell us he seems able to speak forever without taking a breath.

And that’s not the only strange thing we have for you today regarding Monique’s lawsuit. On Tuesday, a letter was filed in the case by Lamont Jefferson, who is acting as the local attorney for David Miscavige and the Religious Technology Center (RTC), the nominally controlling entity of Scientology. Miscavige and RTC filed “special appearances,” arguing that the court has no jurisdiction over them because they have nothing to do with the state of Texas or the harassment of the Rathbuns. But Monique named Miscavige as a defendant because she believes (and every former Scientology executive confirms) that Miscavige micromanages every aspect of Scientology, especially its retaliation and spying programs.

In order to prove that, Monique recently entered into evidence a series of text messages from former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder’s Blackberry. The texts document a conversation that was going on in March 2007 between Rinder, Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis, and Miscavige as they were monitoring and trying to sabotage a BBC journalist, John Sweeney, who was in the US making a documentary about the church. The texts show that Miscavige was not only micromanaging every step of the operation as Rinder and Davis followed and harassed Sweeney, but also that Miscavige belittled and berated his employees, calling them names with a series of acronyms — CICS (counter-intentioned cocksucker), CSMF (cock-sucking motherfucker), and YS (you suck).

In the letter Lamont Jefferson filed this week, he addresses that new evidence, and in a rather strange way.

The Rathbuns now rely upon a declaration from Mike Rinder and a series of purported text messages regarding activities in London England that date between March 19, 2007 and March 24, 2007. Even assuming the authenticity of the purported text messages (a dubious assumption), the subject matter has nothing to do with the State of Texas.

Dubious? Dubious? That’s not a denial, that’s barely a Bronx cheer in Rinder’s general direction.

And London, England? Did Jefferson even read the texts themselves, which are clearly describing Rinder and Davis following Sweeney from Florida to San Francisco to Los Angeles?

As for their relevancy to the Texas lawsuit, the texts are some of the best evidence ever submitted in a court file that shows how a Scientology spying campaign is happening, in real time. They show that not only is Miscavige demanding information at every step, he also directs every move as a substantial document trail is created.

Monique filed that evidence in order to show that Scientology’s current position — that Miscavige had nothing to do with a four-year-long, intense program of surveillance of his biggest enemy, and that the operation, which featured perhaps a hundred different protesters, private investigators, lawyers, videographers, and other agents over the years, somehow did not produce a scrap of paper or an email or any other evidence that the church can now turn over as discovery.

Those 2007 texts make it plain that such a claim is, well, dubious.

But there’s one last item from the letter we want to point out to make the oddity of this week complete.

On page 4 of his letter, Lamont says that Marty Rathbun may be convinced that David Miscavige is obsessed with following and spying on him, but what if it’s all in Marty’s head?

“So convinced is Marty Rathbun that Mr. Miscavige must be preoccupied by his antics, it is simply unfathomable to him that Mr. Miscavige is in fact engaged in more important activities.”

But wait, there’s a footnote to this sentence. And here’s what the footnote says:

DSM-IV-TR describes “projective identification” defense mechanism as one where the individual deals with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by falsely attributing to another his or her own unacceptable feelings, impulses, or thoughts.

Did you see what Lamont did there? He’s saying that Marty Rathbun has a mental illness, and he quotes from psychiatry’s diagnostic manual, the DSM!

Yes, although it was Scientology that sent teams of intimidation squads to South Texas to sit outside the Rathbun home day after day for 199 days in 2011, and also flew out private investigators to follow their every move, photographed their house around the clock, and maintained anonymous smear websites providing daily calumnies about Marty and Monique … it was Marty that was obsessed with Miscavige, and because he was crazy!

Ah, the upside-down world of Scientology litigation never disappoints, does it?

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Scientology’s attorneys presented their full argument in support of their anti-SLAPP motion. Based on that testimony, they’d like Judge Waldrip to dismiss Monique’s lawsuit. Monique is asking for a continuance (a delay) so she can get more evidence before responding with her arguments against the anti-SLAPP. Judge Waldrip asked Monique’s team to submit a list of evidence they want Scientology to turn over if he grants a continuance. Her lawyers did turn in that list yesterday at noon. Waldrip asked Scientology to respond to that list by today at noon, and then he will rule whether to dismiss the lawsuit or give Monique more time to respond to the anti-SLAPP motion.

We do not, however, know whether Waldrip is going to make that determination today. In the past, he has taken several days to make his decisions.

Also, a date of January 22 has been set for a hearing on the motion for sanctions that Monique filed last week.

2nd UPDATE: We now have a copy of the motion to quash the David Miscavige deposition which Lamont Jefferson filed with the court yesterday. We told you earlier that Ray Jeffrey had filed a formal notice to depose Miscavige (Judge Waldrip had already ordered that he could do so) and he set it for January 29 at Lamont’s law offices. But Lamont is moving to stay that order, and we’re guessing this is pretty pro forma language.


The happiest guy who ever bought an e-meter

Now that the new $5,000 Mark Ultra VIII e-meter has been released, you have to think that Scientology leader David Miscavige is hoping lots of his followers are this happy about forking over that much cash for a machine that measures tiny electronic fluctuations in the skin.



Posted by Tony Ortega on January 10, 2014 at 07:00

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