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AUDIO LEAK: Hear a Scientologist being declared suppressive and facing the loss of her family

Yesterday, Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear introduced millions of Americans to Scientology’s concepts about declaring people “suppressive” and ordering them to “disconnect” from each other, resulting in families being ripped apart.

Today, we have one of the most dramatic examples of it ever caught on tape. The Underground Bunker has obtained a stunning audio recording which captures the moment when a woman is told she is being declared a “suppressive person” or “SP” by a Scientology ethics officer, and she realizes that it may tear apart her family.

Even more remarkable, we hear from the ethics officer’s own mouth that Sylvia DeWall (pictured) is being declared suppressive for…

— Watching Going Clear author Lawrence Wright being interviewed on television.
— Watching actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini perform on Dancing with the Stars.

— Having phone conversations with actor Jason Beghe.
— Sending emails to former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder.
— And commenting on the photos of former Scientologists on Facebook.

These were the crimes that caused Sylvia DeWall to be expelled from Scientology, endangering her marriage and relationship to her own children.

“So you’re going to label me a suppressive? That means my husband has to divorce me. That means I lose half of my clients. That means my son, who is in a band with a Scientologist who’s about to make a big record, can’t be in that band anymore. Or he has to disconnect from his mother,” Sylvia says to the unflappable ethics officer who can be heard telling Sylvia that she needs to take responsibility for her actions.

Which, we’ll repeat, included watching Lawrence Wright and Leah Remini on television.

Recordings of actual Scientology ethics actions are very rare. In 2011, we wrote about a similar confrontation which involved then-spokesman Tommy Davis, who was secretly recorded telling a young church member that he had to quit his job working for an “SP” or he’d lose all contact with his family, who were all Scientologists. In 2009, Larry Anderson, who had appeared in a key orientation film for Scientology, openly recorded his own meeting with Tommy Davis to ask for a refund as he was leaving the church.

And now, we have a recording of a meeting that took place on August 19 in Clearwater, Florida that captures the kind of moment we often hear about, but rarely get to listen in on.

Sylvia Wagner was introduced to Scientology by her parents when they had her take a beginning Communications Course in 1978. The next year, she and her parents joined the elite Sea Org with its billion-year contracts, but her parents lasted only a week. Sylvia lasted just six months. But she managed to stay in good standing with the church as she continued school and then joined the Air Force in 1983. She didn’t get back to Scientology until 1994, and then she married another Scientologist, Tim DeWall, in 1997.

DeWall had started in Scientology in 1984, then moved from St. Louis to Tampa, where he joined staff. From 1988 to 1992 he was the executive director of the Tampa “org.” Between the two of them, Tim and Sylvia have three children, all of whom went to Scientology schools. But by 2009, Sylvia was having doubts about Scientology again. Tim, meanwhile, remained avidly involved, and referred to himself as “Mr. Church” as far as his devotion to the organization.

In 2013, Scientologists were preparing for a landmark celebration. After 15 years, the new Flag Building in Clearwater was opening in November and it would deliver highly anticipated “Super Power” processes involving strange contraptions. But in October, Sylvia’s auditor told her that the Flag Master-at-Arms (MAA), a man named Patricio, had ordered that she be subjected to an extensive series of “sec checks.”

Security checks are interrogations. Someone had snitched on Sylvia, which is pretty common in Scientology, where members are encouraged to write up and submit “Knowledge Reports” or “KRs” about other members and turn them in for “ethics” violations. In this case, someone had noticed that Sylvia’s doubts had led her to communicate with some ex-members who had been declared suppressive persons. Sylvia went into her sec check with some trepidation. Like other Scientologists, she believed that it would be impossible to hold back information from the “E-meter,” which members believe can read minds. A skilled auditor can, with an e-meter, find what unethical acts (“overts”) a member was trying to keep hidden (“withholds”). So, like many Scientologists, Sylvia didn’t even try to hold back and spilled her guts about what she’d been up to.

The sec check lasted three weeks. It took so long, Sylvia and Tim were unable to go to the grand opening of the Flag Building, an event that was attended by both Tom Cruise and John Travolta. And while the lavish events around the grand opening were happening, Sylvia not only was being interrogated, she also had to pay for the privilege. The DeWalls owned a paint contracting business, and they worked out a deal to paint her auditor’s house to pay for the sec check, a value of about $4,500. In the interrogation, Sylvia admitted to various interactions with suppressive persons, and her auditor wrote it all down in a Knowledge Report for the Master-at-Arms. He let Sylvia see the report, and she thought he had exaggerated what she had said. So she submitted a “false report report” to protect herself.

In January 2014, Patricio, the Master-at-Arms, called Sylvia in and laid out a program for her to make amends for her transgressions. She agreed to it, and says that by then she had realized that she was no longer, in her mind at least, a “Scientologist.” She wanted to continue to have a good relationship with the church because her husband was still so dedicated, but she only wanted to help out at events or do other support work. Over the next several months, she and her auditor tried to work out a schedule for making progress on her program, but they were both traveling, which made it difficult.


Then, in August 2014, Sylvia heard from the new Master-at-Arms, a young man named Daniel. He asked to meet Sylvia at a location on Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater, but not at one of Scientology’s major buildings on that road. This address was a nondescript building with no signage, only a pair of double doors. Ironically, it was directly across the street from a storefront called “Sage” where Sylvia, until just a few months before, had operated a party space for weddings. (See the image on the video, below. The Scientology building is on the right.)

When he heard about the location, in an out-of-the way office, Sylvia’s husband Tim told her he thought it was a sign that Sylvia was going to be declared a suppressive person. But she disagreed. She still had a program to work on that would allow her to stay in the good graces of the church while she wasn’t an active member, and she thought the new MAA simply wanted to talk about it with her.

On August 19, she went into the plain building and sat down with the new MAA in a room that, she noticed, obviously featured a camera in the ceiling. There was no expectation of privacy in this meeting. It was obvious it was being recorded. We have obtained a copy of a recording of the meeting, and we have edited out only a few seconds to shield the privacy of two people whose names were mentioned.


Follow along with our transcription and notes of the conversation.

Daniel: OK, so I wanted to basically go over with you the sec check KR’s that you had – you received a sec check at the end of 2013 and then I think Patricio was going to see you but you went out of town and Patricio went out of town and you never saw…
Sylvia: Yeah it was tough trying to hook up, but yeah…
Daniel: Yeah, so I just got them recently because he’s still out of town.
Sylvia: OK
Daniel: So, I then I just…we need to do something so I finally found them and I looked at them. Now, in the KR’s, from what I’ve read, there are a number of different suppressive acts that are in here.
Sylvia: OK. Can you explain to me…
Daniel: Yeah. Specifically like communication with Jason Beghe – giving him the mail that you had received. Um… comm between September 2009 and July 2010…


Actor Jason Beghe defected from Scientology in 2007 and famously went public about it early in 2008. A year later, Sylvia reached out to him, wanting to talk about her doubts. She also mailed to him Scientology magazines to keep him up on what was happening in the church. We talked to Beghe, and he says he does remember having conversations with Sylvia.

Daniel: [Met with name, redacted], saw her about twelve times and nattered about the release of the Basics.

Sylvia had admitted that she met with a woman who had been expelled from the church, and they “nattered” about — criticized — the 2007 re-release of L. Ron Hubbard’s early books (“The Basics”). Scientologists were required to purchase sets of the new books and lectures, which had been slightly edited and fully redesigned, at $3,000 per set, even if they already had previous versions of them. Many Scientologists saw it as a cash grab by Scientology leader David Miscavige.

Daniel: In 2009 you were with several declared people. This is the one that had been reported as a photo on your Facebook that I think Patricio saw you on at that time.
Sylvia: It wasn’t on my Facebook.
Daniel: It was a Facebook.
Sylvia: It was the Boshoffs who felt like they needed to put it out there.
Daniel: Right.

Sylvia says that in July 2010 she went to a family party, and realized that some people at the party had been declared suppressive. She decided she didn’t care and stayed. At some point, she was asked to pose in a group photo, and someone posted the photo to Facebook. Sylvia didn’t take or post the photo, but just appearing in the image with “SPs” was enough to be considered a crime.

Daniel: So in September 2007 through August 2009 you looked at websites containing – reporting to contain OT materials. This occurred weekly.

The MAA catches himself here in an interesting way. He is about to accuse Sylvia of looking at websites that contain Scientology’s secret upper-level “OT” or “Operating Thetan” materials, which Scientologists pay huge amounts to attain. Instead of admitting that those materials can be had for free on non-church websites, he says that they are sites “reporting to contain” the precious secrets of the church.

Daniel: Sylvia remained connected to Creed Pearson after finding out he was declared. This continued six times for a few months. She also smoked pot with him for a few of those times. She went to see him at his then girlfriend Christine ministry – Christian ministry – at his then girlfriend’s Christian ministry, and he came to the Sage several times. August 2013 was the last time you saw him. Patricio said you saw him after he threatened suicide to get him back in the church.

Sylvia says Creed Pearson was the first person she knew who had been declared. She says that Pearson was a wealthy man with a family who had been declared suppressive because he had found and pointed out errors in L. Ron Hubbard’s lectures and books. After he was kicked out, his family fell apart and Creed fell on hard times. But Sylvia had reached out to him, and that was a “crime.”

Daniel: July 2010 Sylvia got Mike Rinder’s email. She wrote on his blog a few times and cognited she had to stay off these types of lines.


Sylvia says she never commented at Rinder’s blog, but did send him emails. Rinder defected from Scientology in 2007 after he had been its international spokesman. Miscavige considered him a major enemy to the organization.

Daniel: One and a half years ago she asked Mark Schreffler what happened on his Facebook page. There was no follow up after he answered her in a neutral way.

In 2012, a well known figure in the church, Mark Shreffler, announced at Marty Rathbun’s blog that he had left the organization to become an “independent Scientologist.” Sylvia, curious about his announcement, reached out to him with a private Facebook message.

Daniel: She watched several interviews with Lawrence Wright last winter. She wrote on his Facebook page that she appreciated his objectivity. She has since disconnected from him. She watched Leah Remini a number of times on Google News, the Ellen Show, and Dancing with the Stars during the period of June, July, and August 2013.

You can hear with your own ears that Scientology’s ethics officer will consider you suppressive for even watching the likes of Lawrence Wright and Leah Remini on television — even if it only involves dancing. Also, as a reminder, this Sea Org ethics officer only knows that Sylvia watched these shows because Sylvia divulged it in an intense three week long interrogation. And speaking of thought crimes…

Daniel: She was curious about the issue of what happened with Shelly Miscavige.

Aren’t we all? In Scientology, however, even admitting to wondering about Shelly — who disappeared ten years ago this summer — is a high crime.

Daniel: Two years ago Lucas…is it Tan or Tanning?
Sylvia: Catton
Daniel: Can?
Sylvia: Catton
Daniel: Oh. Catton.
Sylvia: Yeah. Did… Can I ask… Was there a false report that accompanied this? Because I wrote a false report report.
Daniel: On that specific one or the whole thing?

Sylvia: The whole thing.
Daniel: No. But you got the sec check and felt these were wrong?
Sylvia: Yeah.
Daniel: Right…
Sylvia: And John said, well, write your false report report. And I did and I routed it to him and he said “looks good.” So I assumed it had accompanied this.
Daniel: No. Or has any of the stuff I said accurate?
Sylvia: Uh no. Well, it’s generalized and exaggerated. When it says “several times,” a few times and that sort of thing. And why, um…
Daniel: OK. Well, I’ll continue then though, right? Two years ago, so, Lucas Catton contacted you to find out if the stepfather of his daughter was a suitable parent for his child. You asked for information about what happened at Narconon and why he was declared. Uh, one month ago he contacted you again to find out why you had unfriended him on Facebook and you told him you wanted to follow the rules. Those are them…

Lucas Catton at one time was the president of Scientology’s flagship drug rehab facility in Oklahoma, Narconon Arrowhead. He has since defected and wrote a book about his experiences. Also, in this section, you can see Sylvia raise her first objection to this list of transgressions, saying that they are exaggerated, which she indicated in her “false report report.”

Daniel: And then more recently there were posts that you had made on Nick Lister and Aaron Smith-Levin’s Facebook page.
Sylvia: There were “posts?”
Daniel: Posts. Like comments you had made on photos of theirs?
Sylvia: Yeah. I did comment on them. But I’ve unfriended them.

And finally, the last of her crimes is simply commenting on photos on the Facebook pages of two expelled Scientologists, Nick Lister and Aaron Smith-Levin.


Daniel: Right. So, the problem is that like these different things, even if it was one time, and there was a reason why or whatever and it continues to come up and these things are suppressive acts. So I’m going to give you the PL [policy letter], the HCO PL on suppressive acts…
Sylvia: Can I stop you for a second?
Daniel: OK.
Sylvia: Because, what was definitely neglected in the KR, that did come up in the sec check, was, as I’m reading the program I was given, at one point, it was the Code of a Scientologist. And I cognited [realized], I’m not. I am not a Scientologist. And, um, the desire to be in a church does not appeal to me. I don’t like the rules. Um, I’m not an enemy. I’m very supportive. If you’d heard the conversations between me and my husband, who said he would come down here. He will make a statement, to get his ass on course at Belleair mission, because he has gains. He has wins. He’s happy. I’ve never invalidated his wins nor his gains. But I am not church material. I have finally cognited on that. And I am not an enemy. I am not an enemy. In fact, I think if you look over the last 35 years of my connection to the church, you’ll see I’ve done maybe half a dozen courses. OK? And a few seminars… My interest has always been in helping the community. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. When I came to Clearwater twenty years ago, I was like jumping for anything and everything that I could volunteer. I painted Winter Wonderland. OK? Way to Happiness. I’m there. I’m handing them out. I love The Way to Happiness. I’m not going to be one of those that are going to be able to abide by the rules. Um, I’m not out there telling people to not do that. It’s just me. I’m not that.
Daniel: Um hmm…

When Daniel mentions that he’s going to give Sylvia the Policy Letter on suppressive acts, she knows what’s coming. He’s about to declare her a suppressive person, which could devastate her family. She reacts by trying to hold him off, explaining that she doesn’t even really consider herself a Scientologist anymore, but just a sort of volunteer who will help hand out booklets of The Way to Happiness, a bland collection of life advice that the church disseminates to prop up the image of L. Ron Hubbard. She’s now going to explain how she does have some involvement with Scientology materials, but it’s convinced her she’s not a full member.

Sylvia: And I know, I’m scared. I’m scared about telling you this. I’ve read up, and it’s like I’m not making a public announcement. I’m not telling my friends this. I applaud their wins because they look happier. They look brighter. I’ve indulged myself. I have the congresses awarded to me by Ann Manierre at the mission. I’ve been, myself, going through these congresses. I like that. I enjoy that part. What I don’t enjoy is this. Because for me, it squishes me. And though it’s been explained. I’ve read the policies and everything else. I’ve word cleared it and I’m like I still disagree. And LRH says I can do that. And he also said it’s not for everyone. I’m like, well, you know…it’s…there’s certain parts of the tech I do disagree with, but I have to say 99.9 percent of it I love. That’s the tech. But for me, the church, it doesn’t interest me.
Daniel: OK
Sylvia: And, where we go from there, it’s like I’m not, I’m just not getting enthused about doing a program to come back on board. I have no intention, at this point, of coming back into a course room. I might do extension courses. But quite frankly, the congresses are probably going to take me, at my rate, about the next three or four years. And I’ve got two kids in college, one in a rock band. That’s where my heart lies. And I’m also trying to finish my degree so I can start a camp, you know? Where I can incorporate The Way to Happiness, but…
Daniel: Totally fine. So, basically, the point is like these actions that are laid out in the sec check here, like connecting up with declared SP’s, these things are, these people are enemies of our church.
Sylvia: I do understand that.
Daniel: Right. So, you don’t want to do it? I’m not here to try and handle you to do it at all. But these actions per our policies are suppressive acts, and they get labeled as such. And the problem with living in Clearwater, is that there are many, tons of Scientologists…
Sylvia: Yes there are. John Bellmaine’s like “well, what are you doing here?”
Daniel: And community actions. Yeah you can do things that are not for Scientologists, for sure. But a lot of the community actions, especially in like downtown Clearwater, and the things you’re talking about, The Way to Happiness, these things are generally with Scientologists. Maybe they’re not, fine. No one is forcing you…do whatever you want. I’m not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. But, my point is that those things are suppressive acts towards the church. Whether you’re a Scientologist or whether you are not a Scientologist. But you can not do them, that’s fine. I’m just telling you that those things get labeled as such. So I’m going to give you the policy letter so you can read it. If you do want to…

Sylvia: I have read it and I understand… I hope that you will consider the intention behind it. It wasn’t to harm the church. It wasn’t to pick up a picket sign or anything like that. OK? It was out of simple curiosity. Especially the call with… or it wasn’t a call. It was an email with Mark Schreffler. “What happened, Schreff?” OK? It freaked me out. OK? And I think anybody with a curious mind would want to ask the guy “what the hell?” You know? And I did read Debbie Cook’s letter because I love Debbie Cook. I went to the meetings – the CEC… And I was like “what the hell?”
Daniel: Right.
Sylvia: This doesn’t make any sense to me. So, I pursued that. I did. I did that. Now I didn’t mean to. The only reason I…I make a comment or, uh, even contact someone like Nick Lister is because my heart goes out to him. He’s my daughter’s age. He’s been cut off. I’ve been cut off. I’ve experienced that just a smidge when the Boshoffs felt like they had to put my picture with the people I had just met that night. I didn’t even know they were suppressives or declared persons until I was there.
Daniel: Right.
Sylvia: Sure. I should have gotten up, but four or five drinks later they take my picture and put it on Facebook. Great. OK? So then the Boshoffs ran with it. That was upsetting because what happens is that I go from about 1200 people on my friends list to about two hundred in three days. And nobody asked questions. Nobody came to me. That was a little heart wrenching. And so I know how Nick feels. And I don’t… and I know how Creed felt. Creed wanted to kill himself. It is horrid and that is one of the reasons I am not interested in the whole church thing. Because I think it’s – I don’t agree with it. I can’t agree with it. And I’ve been shown policies… and I can’t. I told myself I wasn’t going to get emotional and I’m just going to TR-3 it.
Daniel: Fine. I’m not here to handle you to do it.
Sylvia: But I’m, I know, but…
Daniel: These things get labeled. And they get… You know, people who do these things do get labeled. And so, I didn’t want to all of a sudden just have a label happen when no one had spoken to you in seven, eight months. That’s why I decided to see you.
Sylvia: OK.
Daniel: Because at least it’s… I’m telling you, I wanted to give you the policy. You don’t have to take it if you don’t want to. It’s in the ethics book, as well. It gives the steps if one does want to get back in good standing. Um… that was the main reason. I just didn’t want it to be out of the blue.
Sylvia: OK. All right. What’s going to be out of the blue? What’s coming. What is coming?
Daniel: Like what I’m saying is that if someone commits a suppressive act they get labeled.
Sylvia: So you’re going to actually label me a suppressive?
Daniel: For committing the suppressive acts, yes.

What Sylvia has been dreading, and trying to stave off, is now out in the open. She’s been expelled from the Church of Scientology as a suppressive person, and all people who want to remain in good standing with the church — including her own family members — will have to “disconnect” from her, cutting off all contact.

Sylvia: Do you understand what that is going to do to me?
Daniel: I think that the actions you have taken…
Sylvia: I’m telling you right now that I’m not even a member of the church but you’re still labeling me. How does that work?
Daniel: Well, look at the actions you have done. I can just explain they’re covered…
Sylvia: But if I did it as a non-member – I don’t even have a membership. I’ve never had a membership.
Daniel: OK.
Sylvia: So anybody, anybody in this whole planet, whoever spoke with Nick Lister is a suppressive?
Daniel: Well, somehow you’ve had some connection to the org or to the church. I mean I’m seeing it now…
Sylvia: Everybody in this town had had some involvement with the church. The Mayor… Can the mayor not speak to Nick?
Daniel: I think you’re more of a Scientologist than the mayor.
Sylvia: I’m telling you right now I’m not a Scientologist.
Daniel: Fine. Maybe you were more of one.
Sylvia: So you’re going to label me a suppressive? That means my husband has to divorce me. That means I lose half of my clients. That means my son, who is in a band with a Scientologist, who’s about to make a big record, can’t be in that band anymore. Or he has to disconnect from his mother. I have to disconnect from my brother. I’ve lost two to death. And now I’m going to lose to disconnection. Does, does this make any sense?
Daniel: I’m just telling you, you need to look at – take responsibility for your actions that you’ve done.
Sylvia: They weren’t suppressive. There was not any harm intended. I had a communication. I have seen Drew Sweet on the street, say “Hey, Creed. How ya doin?” You know? He responded to a communication. How come he’s not in here having to do this? Why isn’t he labeled a suppressive?
Daniel: I don’t know. Did you report him?
Sylvia: He didn’t report himself? My goodness!
Daniel: I don’t know. It’s the first time I’ve heard about it. I’m just telling you that you need to take responsibility for your actions. You can handle it.
Sylvia: By doing the program.
Daniel: It’s covered in the reference. It’s covered in the HCO PL. You can have a copy or it’s in the ethics book.

Scientologists who are declared suppressive can get back in good standing by accomplishing the “A to E steps” of a program of contrition and reindoctrination. Until that time, the suppressive may only communicate with the International Justice Chief, who determines if the A to E steps are being properly fulfilled.

Sylvia: Am I going to see said declaration?
Daniel: When it gets approved then the justice chief will contact you.
Sylvia: And what is that… Then what happens?
Daniel: He’ll go over with you the different steps, options, etc. He’ll be your terminal, your only terminal to the church.
Sylvia: This is, this is really…mean. This is suppressive, what you’re doing. I am a good person. I have got a shitload of commends from this organization. Nobody’s even bothered to look. I don’t even put my name anymore. Pam Anderson wants me to put my name on this list every time I check in at Winter Wonderland. And I say that’s not why I’m doing it, OK? I’m not trying to get a commendation from the Church of Scientology. I’m doing it because I love kids. I am not a suppressive.
Daniel: OK. You’ve committed suppressive acts.
Sylvia: With this organization which I am not a part of.
Daniel: OK. I get that. Somehow you’ve connected yourself into the group.
Sylvia: That’s… How do you sit there so calmly and destroy someone’s life? How do you do it?
Daniel: You need to take a look at your actions…
Sylvia: No. My actions are fine. Anybody outside this room – in the real world – would have read that and gone “What? You commented on someone’s Facebook post?” And by the way, who’s policing the Facebook? Who reported it?
Daniel: Anyone can see it…
Sylvia: Yeah. Who? Who is it that has time to police my Facebook page? Who?
Daniel: I don’t know.
Sylvia: Bullshit.
Daniel: I received it…
Sylvia: Let me see it.
Daniel: I don’t have them here with me….
Sylvia: You don’t even have a report.
Daniel: I have it here. In my office I have your file. I didn’t bring the whole file…
Sylvia: So, what, the only thing you can show me are my own admissions in my sec check. That’s it? I came to you guys. For being there and communicating you’re declaring me. You don’t have one KR. That’s why I was told I had to do a sec check. Was all these KR’s. And I’m like “Can I see them?” And I never got to see them. Never. Not once. And I’ve requested and requested. And got the run around from John, from Patricio, from Ann Manierre – nobody ever showed them to me.
Daniel: OK. I got that. I didn’t know that. It’s the first time I’ve spoken to you. So…
Sylvia: This is injustice. This is injustice. I have done nothing but communicate.
Daniel: OK. So I think you should read this suppressive acts PL. It gives you your rights in there and your options in there…
Sylvia: My options are I have to move out. Divorce my husband…
Daniel: I mean you can read the reference and see what the options are.
Sylvia: Or jeopardize my own personal integrity. That’s what you’re saying. I have to go against my own integrity. Are you watching this? Is he watching this? [Gesturing to the camera, Sylvia is asking whether David Miscavige is watching.]
Daniel: I think you should just read this PL and then you can see what your options are from there.
Sylvia: Jesus Christ. Well, you did your drill well. Your TR’s are spot on, buddy.

Sylvia finishes the meeting by referring to Daniel’s “TRs,” meaning that she’s mockingly congratulating him on his robotic manner.

And so Sylvia headed home, terrified by the thought of telling her “Mr. Church” husband that she’d been declared, and informing him that he now faced the choice of staying in Scientology and divorcing her, or staying married and getting declared himself.

“She was toast,” Tim DeWall tells us, remembering what Sylvia looked like when she arrived home from the meeting. “It had sucked the life out of her. And she didn’t know how I was going to react. You have to understand, I was Mr. Church. I’d been in a long time,” he says.

“I just told her, I understand, you’re declared. She was just sort of speechless. I told her, I have a decision to make. I’m going to sit here calmly — I had to go through that process,” he says.

They were not only facing the prospect of having to split up, but most of their customers were Scientologists. And once they heard Sylvia had been declared, those customers would stop calling.

Sylvia tells us she honestly didn’t know what Tim was going to decide.

“I made the decision that my wife was more important to me than a disconnection order on a piece of paper. I thought about the repercussions for our kids, too, and would I be in a position that I’d have to disconnect from one or more of them. No, my future was more important with my family than with a church organization,” he says.

Tim says that after making that decision, he wanted to learn more about the church — why would it do something so cruel? So he allowed himself to begin looking on the Internet. “I really liked what Chris Shelton was saying. And Dave Fagen. But it was Paul Haggis who really helped me. Because I wasn’t insane,” he says. “I spent three weeks of searching on the Internet after 30 years in the church. I was a former executive director, I had handled Office of Special Affairs stuff. I always suspected there were problems but I had turned a blind eye to it.”

Their minds made up, the DeWalls acted quickly. “We sold our business and our house and we moved to Arizona,” Sylvia says. “We had the intention of being independent Scientologists, but then you go through the Internet and read everything, and we ended up throwing out all the books.”

Just seven months after Sylvia was declared, the DeWalls have relocated to Arizona and have started a new painting business. Their three children, despite being educated in Scientology schools (“Which messed up their educations,” Sylvia complains) are also out of Scientology entirely.



Posted by Tony Ortega on March 30, 2015 at 07:00

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GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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