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Kathy Slevin, sister who attacked Paul Haggis on behalf of Scientology, dies at 60

kathy_slevin

 
Last year, when Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear opened at theaters and then aired on HBO, Scientology leader David Miscavige struck back in a very characteristic way — with websites and videos denouncing Gibney and the people who appeared in the film.

Chief among them was Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning writer and director who had left Scientology after 30 years and was the subject of Lawrence Wright’s 2011 New Yorker profile and then the book that the film was based on. Haggis was singled out for one of the harshest acts of retaliation. His sister, television writer and producer Kathy Slevin, appeared in a video at one of Scientology’s websites, accusing her brother of being a lifelong “con man” who was taking advantage of Wright and Gibney by pretending to be more involved in Scientology than he actually had been. She also said Haggis had only agreed to be interviewed by Wright as a cunning way to get himself profiled in the New Yorker.

We remember seeing the video when it first appeared, and how uncomfortable it was to watch. What Slevin said about her brother wasn’t credible in the slightest, and it was disturbing to see the way Scientology was using her to try and harm Haggis’s reputation.

This weekend, we learned that on October 12, Kathy Slevin succumbed after a fight with cancer. She was 60.

“My sister, Jo Francis, called me ten days ago to tell me that our sister Kathy had passed away,” Haggis told us when we messaged him for a comment. “We were both deeply saddened by the news, as was our entire family. I know very little about the circumstances; I had written Kathy when I heard she had cancer, but Kathy was a proud member of Scientology and was still receiving auditing, so I did not expect a response. I was happy that Jo was able to reconnect with Kathy in her last weeks, and visited her often. Jo told me that Kathy was with her husband and son when she passed, and I am sure that brought her great comfort. Her son, Mack, while now an adult, was always a great and loving boy, and my thoughts are especially with him.”

The Church of Scientology has said nothing about Kathy Slevin’s passing, or about her work. But we will.

“Paul and Kathy gave me my first job in television, working on Due South. It was a great experience,” says David Shore, who wrote for the Canadian crime comedy series in 1995, and went on to create the Fox medical drama series House along with many other producing and writing credits. “Due South was Paul’s show. Kathy was co-producer, and she did a great job. They kind of split up the workload in an unusual way. Paul kind of show-ran half the shows, and she ran the other half. They’re both smart and capable and did some great episodes.

“She was a talented writer. I think like all writers she had some demons. But she was talented and I learned a lot from her,” he says. “We worked long hours, and I enjoyed working with her. I remember sitting in her office into the wee hours and enjoying it. You felt like you were doing something, and your ideas mattered — they were both very good about that.”

By that time, 1995, Haggis had already appeared on the cover of Scientology’s Celebrity magazine. But we asked Shore, was he aware that Paul and his sister were Scientologists when he went to work on Due South?

“I don’t think I knew they were Scientologists. I did know by the end of the season. But neither one of them proselytized us in any way. I remember going to Paul’s house and seeing books by L. Ron Hubbard, but he never mentioned it.”

Kathy worked on several other series, including the CBS series Silk Stalkings, Fox Family’s The Zack Files, and, most recently, the web series Secret Diary of an American Cheerleader.

She was also a longtime public Scientologist, and attacked her own brother when she was asked to. But it’s important to keep in mind that Scientology operates mainly on fear, and Kathy would have been under intense pressure that her own “eternity” would be threatened by her brother’s defection. Haggis had become a “suppressive person,” and by Scientology law, it meant that anyone who wanted to remain in good standing with the church would have to “disconnect” from him. And, in Kathy’s case, it would have meant proving her loyalty by attacking Paul publicly, even though her accusations made little sense.

“The video saddened me because based on my knowledge of it, what she was saying just wasn’t true, the allegations she was making about Paul. And I can’t believe she thought they were true,” Shore says. “I sent Paul an email at that point. It had to be extraordinarily difficult to go through that. It can’t have been easy what he did, leaving Scientology. But I can’t imagine that there was anything more gut-wrenching than what his sister said.”

Haggis was only one of the figures in Going Clear who received that kind of treatment. Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, and former Scientologist Sara Goldberg were also attacked with testimonials by their own family members. It’s what Scientology does.

“I just always assumed there was going to be time for things to change,” Shore tells us. “This is not the way this relationship should have been. Smart, talented people who have been driven apart by circumstances and more. You hope that both of them see the light before it’s too late.”

Sadly, for Paul Haggis, that wasn’t the case. We extend our sympathies to him and the rest of his family.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on October 24, 2016 at 07:00

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, Kindle, and audiobook versions. 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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