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Garcias answer: Was Scientology not paying attention to an angry federal judge?

[Attorney Ted Babbitt and his client, Luis Garcia]

On Thursday, we told you about Scientology’s surprising response to a federal judge who has lost all patience.

Luis and Rocio Garcia filed their fraud lawsuit against several Church of Scientology entities in 2013 over allegations that they’d been lied to in order to get about $400,000 in donations out of them for construction of Scientology’s Super Power building. Two years later, Tampa Judge James Whittemore ruled that the contracts the Garcias had signed as church members required them to take their grievances to Scientology’s internal arbitration, and he stayed the lawsuit. Since then, the two sides have been unable to agree on a three-member panel of arbitrators, with each side accusing the other of bad faith.

Fed up with the skirmishing, Judge Whittemore asked Scientology’s attorneys to file an application so that Whittemore could take over and appoint the three arbitrators himself. In order to do that, he gave Scientology 15 days to turn in, under seal, the names and contact information of 500 Scientologists in the Los Angeles area, saying he would randomly choose names from the list until he could find three Scientologists in good standing willing to serve.

On Thursday we learned that Scientology’s attorneys did submit 500 names, but without contact information. They said that it would be better if the judge gives them a name from the list and then Scientology’s “International Justice Chief,” Mike Ellis, would actually reach out to the church member. And Scientology also asked the judge to select only one arbitrator, not all three. After Whittemore chooses the first arbitrator on behalf of the Garcias, the church wants to choose its own arbitrator, and those two panelists would choose the third.

Now, the Garcias have filed an answer with the help of their attorney Ted Babbitt, and you can probably predict the message: Scientology, were you not listening?


Not only did Judge Whittemore make it very clear in an April 7 hearing that he would choose all three arbitrators, but Babbitt points out Scientology wants to choose its own arbitrator after the Garcias have lost the chance to choose their own, an unfair advantage.

Babbitt also reminds the court that it had asked not only for 500 names of Scientologists, but also their addresses, occupations, and telephone numbers, as well as indicating which of them are employees of the church. But after Judge Whittemore made it very obvious that he wants the information so he can contact potential arbitrators himself, and he warned both sides with jail time if they interfered or contacted the people on the list themselves, Scientology’s attorneys are now telling the judge they do intend to contact potential arbitrators on the judge’s behalf.

Well, that should tell Judge Whittemore all he needs to know about Scientology’s sincerity, Babbitt writes.

The concern of the Defendants about a potential arbitrator participating in the proceedings demonstrates what both the Defendants and the Plaintiffs know about the arbitration process being nothing more than a sham. Defendants know that if the Court contacts Scientology members in good standing, none would consent to act as arbitrator unless the Defendants assure them that they would not be themselves declared or excommunicated if they serve as arbitrators. This is a very justified fear on the part of potential arbitrators who are in good standing. The Court knows from the testimony received by the Court in this case that if any Scientologist in good standing would dare to question the Church of Scientology in an arbitration proceeding, they would be automatically declared or excommunicated. Under the rules of Scientology, they are not even allowed to be in the same room with Mr. or Mrs. Garcia because the Garcias are declared. They are not allowed to speak to them and if they dared to find against Scientology they themselves would be excommunicated. The only way they could participate in an arbitration proceeding would be if they were assured by the Church that they could conspire with the Church to find in favor of Scientology. Anything less than that would lead to their own excommunication. As the Court knows from the testimony it received, that is no small matter. If a Scientologist is declared by the Church, their wives and husbands, in order to remain in the Church, would have to divorce them and never speak to them again. If their children were in the Church and they are declared, their children would never speak to them again. They couldn’t ever see their grandchildren because of the insular nature of Scientology they would lose all their friends, associates and business contacts. It would completely destroy their lives. These are people who are supposed to act as impartial and disinterested arbitrators.

Babbitt writes that this kafkaesque nightmare will become plain to Whittemore as he tries to contact arbitrators, and will, the Garcias hope, finally convince the judge to declare Scientology’s internal arbitration unworkable and lift the stay on the lawsuit itself. For now, at least, they ask the judge to deny Scientology’s motion that’s in such defiance of his April 10 order.

OK, judge, now it’s your move.

Here’s the document…



Scientology, Clearwater, and Fair Game

[CMA’s CEO, David Yates]

If you’ve seen the calm, reasoned response by Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates that showed up in the Tampa Bay Times, you know that it was just about pitch-perfect for fending off Scientology’s bullying attempt.

Church leader David Miscavige is retaliating in classic Scientology style after the aquarium went through with the sale of a 1.4-acre downtown Clearwater parcel to the city that Miscavige wanted for his own uses.

As Yates points out, selling to the city for its $55-million, 10-year “Imagine Clearwater” downtown redevelopment plan made the most sense for the largest number of people (or, in Scientology lingo, “the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics,” heh), even if it meant taking $4.25 million from the city and refusing the $15 million that the church was offering.

So, as a result, Miscavige has in effect declared the aquarium to be an enemy of the church and subject to Scientology’s “Fair Game” policy:

“May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”

We’ve documented many cases of Scientology directing its Fair Game policy at individuals in the past — heck, we wrote a whole book about it — but this may be the most visible and most watched case of retaliation ever, and it’s going on in real time. For that reason, it’s been an absolute disaster for Scientology.

Pinellas County’s board of commissioners easily waved off Scientology objections that the aquarium receive $26 million in tourist tax money. Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times went through each point of Scientology’s vicious attack and showed that they were all exaggerations. And now Yates himself has answered that attack in the most calm, classy response possible.

And all of it has played out in public — this is maybe the best chance ever for people who still give Scientology the benefit of the doubt to see how it actually operates. (Reza Aslan, are you paying attention?)

Yes, Scientology really is this bad. And this is how it has always operated. It attacks people viciously, but usually not so publicly. Many of folks who get these attacks not only don’t have an eager press ready to expose and debunk Scientology’s exaggerations, they usually keep it to themselves for fear that others will consider them delusional.

Scientology Fair Game is real, and it’s playing out before our very eyes in Clearwater. So keep those eyes peeled, and watch as Miscavige and his attack dog, attorney Monique Yingling, take their next wild stab at David Yates and the aquarium, or at the city council members who approved the land sale. Because it’s coming.


Countdown to Denver!


HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25 at the Residence Inn Denver City Center. Go here to start making your plans, and book your room soon!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,735 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,838 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,332 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,372 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,084 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 610 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,699 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,839 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,159 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,134 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 490 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,792 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 899 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,301 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,174 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 755 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,260 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,504 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,613 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on April 29, 2017 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.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

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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