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The judge, his letters, and more proof that Scientology is snowing a federal court

James_Whittemore

[Judge James D. Whittemore]

 
A couple of new documents showed up recently in the court file of Luis and Rocio Garcia’s federal fraud lawsuit against the Church of Scientology, and we thought you might want to hear about them.

As you may recall, the Garcias were told by the court to submit their complaints about being defrauded to Scientology’s internal arbitration system, as was spelled out in contracts they had signed as church members. The Garcias had argued that Scientology’s ‘arbitration’ was a sham that didn’t really exist and had never actually been used in church history. But the court decided that a contract was a contract, and the Garcias had to take their beef to the church’s internal justice system. The Garcias came back to the court earlier this year, however, complaining that Scientology had made it impossible to choose arbitrators. Scientology countered that it was the Garcias who were making it impossible to proceed.

We’ve been waiting more than two months for Judge James D. Whittemore to make some sort of ruling about those arguments. But in the meantime, these two new documents appeared, and what really caught our attention was that they weren’t submitted either by the Garcias or the Church of Scientology.

They were put into the court file by Judge Whittemore himself.

He may have been obligated to do so and perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into the presence of these documents in the file. But the time he’s taking to make a ruling — more than two months — as well as his placing these documents in the court do make us wonder just what he’s thinking.

The documents are letters that were written to Judge Whittemore, each of them very similar even though it’s pretty obvious that they were written independent of each other. One of them is from Cindy Plahuta, who lives in Colorado, and the other is from Marcel Wenger of Switzerland.

Each of them are former members of the Church of Scientology who have been watching the Garcia lawsuit unfold. And each of them were surprised to see the Church of Scientology insist that the Garcias should be compelled to take their dispute over money they had given the church to an internal arbitration process.

As Plahuta and Wenger both explained to Judge Whittemore, each of them had money on account at Scientology that they wanted back as well. So, inspired by what Scientology had argued to the judge, they each took it upon themselves to write letters to Scientology’s “International Justice Chief,” a man named Mike Ellis, asking that they too get to take part in arbitration. Each of them got no response.

After Plahuta received no reply, she wrote to Judge Whittemore, explaining what she had done. “The certified letter was returned unopened, and I have not heard from Mr. Mike Ellis or anyone else regarding our request for arbitration,” she wrote.

She wanted Judge Whittemore to know that while they were in his court, Scientology officials were saying the Garcias had to go through arbitration, but that they were lying about arbitration being a real choice.

Please understand that the Church of Scientology has never conducted a single arbitration in its history. They just don’t do it. They ignore everyone’s requests or pleas. The only reason they are communicating with the Garcias, pretending to attempt to conduct an arbitration, is because they sued and their case is under the court’s scrutiny.

I felt the Court should know that this so called “arbitration” is a sham. It leaves us all with no recourse whatsoever.

Wenger went through a similar experience, with a few more steps, but ultimately he reached the same conclusion as his request for arbitration was never answered.

I’m not surprised, after all, in the 40 some years in the Church of Scientology, prior to the Garcia’s law suit, I had never heard of a Committee of Evidence being convened in regards to a repayment or refund.

We talked to Plahuta by phone recently, and she admitted that she was surprised to find that we had learned about her letter. She hadn’t written it for attention, and didn’t realize that the judge might put it in the court file.

“Yes, I’m surprised it’s in the file. I didn’t think that what one person, what an ex-Scientologist has to say, would mean anything,” she told us. “I’m shocked, but I’m happy. I hope it helps.”

We pointed it out when Whittemore made his decision to force the Garcias into Scientology arbitration last year: The court had bought Scientology’s argument that allowing the lawsuit to proceed would be a violation of its First Amendment religious rights, and so it accepted the church’s arguments about an arbitration system that its own former officials said was a sham that didn’t really exist.

Now, the judge has heard the same thing directly from at least two people who aren’t even related to the lawsuit, and each found that Scientology is lying about its procedures.

Does this mean the judge is taking seriously what the Garcias are saying, that it’s time to end this charade about arbitration and get the lawsuit going again?

We really don’t know. But we thought you’d want to see these two letters by two people who took it upon themselves to educate Judge James D. Whittemore.

Garcia v. Scientology: Cindy Plahuta Letter

Garcia v. Scientology: Marcel Wenger Letter

 
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Trailer for Louis Theroux’s ‘My Scientology Movie’

We’ve seen this movie twice, and we liked it even better the second time. We hope you get to see it soon…

 

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 20, 2016 at 07:45

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated 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 L.A. 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

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | 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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