Fwd: Scientology cult pays $8,674,643 to ex-member to end 22-year legal battle.

From: Wade Smith (wade_smith@harvard.edu)
Date: Fri May 10 2002 - 20:04:49 BST

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    Subject: Fwd: Scientology cult pays $8,674,643 to ex-member to end 22-year legal battle.
    From: Wade Smith <wade_smith@harvard.edu>
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    Reformatted for your reading pleasure-

    - Wade



    May, 2002

    Factnet News

    Scientology cult pays $8,674,643 to ex-member to end 22-year
    legal battle.
    It was a crushing and humiliating legal defeat for the cult that
    is infamous around the world for its outrageous litigation
    tactics. Over the past 22 years Scientology spent an estimated
    140 million in and out of the court in its efforts to crush a
    former member, Lawrence Wollersheim, and his legal teams.

    The Wollersheim v. Church of Scientology of California (CSC)
    litigation wound its way though the LA Superior Court, the
    California Appellate and Supreme courts as well as the US
    Supreme court almost a half a dozen times. In the first landmark
    Wollersheim decision, Scientology’s counseling practices were
    found to be dangerous in the first jury decision of the LA
    Superior Court. These dangerous counseling practices were also
    found to be the cause of Lawrence Wollersheim being driven to
    the brink of insanity. 

    Thereafter, Scientology filed numerous malicious and tangential
    legal actions designed to inhibit Wollersheim right of due legal
    process and to exhaust his financial resources so that he could
    not carry on his case. The California court saw this new abuse
    and fined Scientology separately $500,000 in what is known as a
    SLAPP lawsuit (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.)
    This SLAPP fine was the highest fine ever paid for such a suit
    in California. 

    In another ill-conceived effort to avoid paying the judgment
    Scientology stripped an estimated 500 million dollars from the
    Church of Scientology of California and transferred its assets
    to other corporations in the Scientology corporate umbrella. To
    collect this judgment from the new Scientology corporations that
    had received the money, Wollersheim and his legal team filed a
    new collection lawsuit naming the Church of Scientology
    International (CSI) and religious Technology Corporation (RTC)
    as responsible for paying the Wollersheim judgment because of
    their receipt of the CSC assets.

    On 9th May 2002, just before minutes before CSI and RTC were to
    appear in court Scientology hurriedly delivered an $8,674,643
    cashiers check to the LA superior court clerk. This stopped
    having any additional evidence presented in court that could
    have exposed Scientology’s lack of corporate integrity, and
    could have exposed Scientology’s controversial IRS charitable
    tax exemption to review and potential repeal as well as stopped
    the very real risk that Scientology’s top executives could soon
    being put in jail for corporate and asset fraud. 

    During the original 5-month jury trial in the LA Superior court
    in 1986 Scientology had almost 25,000 members picketing the
    courthouse carrying signs saying “Not one thin dime for
    Wollersheim” and “We will NEVER pay.” David Miscavige, the
    cult’s current leader and former executive in CSI and RTC at the
    time of the (CSC) transfers, as well as other top Scientology
    cult leaders repeatedly vowed to members that nothing could ever
    force them to pay the Wollersheim judgment and they would fight
    the judgment forever no matter how much it costs or what the

    After today’s last minute payment it would appear that what
    David Miscavige and Scientology’s other senior executives were
    actually saying was that they would only stonewall on the
    payment up to that point at which they were in danger of
    exposing themselves personally for potential felonies. And that
    they wanted, at all costs, to avoid Scientology’s controversial
    IRS tax-exempt status grant being exposed in a court of law to
    evidence that could cause its repeal. 

    Scientology leaders are now faced with having to concoct a story
    for their current members explaining the painfully obvious
    incongruity of their actions. They also have to now contend with
    the floodgates being thrown wide open for thousands of new
    lawsuits being filed by emboldened former members who lost
    hundreds of thousands of dollars to Scientology and/or were also
    harmed by Scientology’s outrageous counseling tactics. 

    In an exclusive for interview for FACTNet Lawrence Wollersheim
    said the following about this long overdue and hard won victory:

    “It is my opinion that there are hundreds of thousands of people
    all over the US, Europe and South America who have been
    destroyed by this cult and then intimidated into silence. But, I
    now do not think that these people will remain silent any

    I believe that they see this abusive cult has been beaten by the
    power of the law and patience. I hope that they will begin
    immediately calling their lawyers to use the full power of the
    law get their lives back and seek restitution as well. I also
    believe that after this court victory, former members who were
    intimidated into silence about criminal acts they were coerced
    to commit while in Scientology will come forward and speak with
    the proper government officials.

    It took me 22 years of using the slow but steady power of law to
    enforce justice upon this dangerous cult. There were times when
    I thought I could not go on any longer. But then I would
    remember the many people who have lost their lives in
    Scientology such as Lisa McPherson (a current Scientology
    wrongful death case in Florida.). These people would have no
    voice if someone did not win a Scientology case. 

    I remembered Medger Evers wife who fought for 32 years and
    finally got the killers of her husband (the civil right worker)
    to trial. I thought of the families for the four African
    American teens in Atlanta who, after 39 years of persistence
    using the force of the law, finally got the fourth Ku Klux Klan
    member suspected in their deaths to trial.

    When I saw the courage, persistence and dedication these
    individuals displayed in using the law to effect justice I told
    myself to stop being such a wimp and that I was only at the 12,
    18, 20, and 22 year mark. These numbers were nothing compared to
    the 32 years that Medger’s wife fought. What also sustained me
    in fighting for justice, no matter the level of threat or
    intimidation, was my faith in a higher, infinite and benevolent

    The most important thing I have learned in this ordeal is that
    true justice is not the law. Nor is it the judges or courts.
    True justice is that sense of fairness that we all have in our
    hearts. It is that which gives us the power to ensure justice
    for others and the strength to demand justice for ourselves
    against all odds.

    The most important thing I could say to others or to social
    advocacy groups that are facing or considering cult -
    litigation, or bringing lawsuits against wealthy corporations
    like cigarette companies or fighting the governments that are
    polluting our environment or committing financial or other
    criminal acts is that they should use the legal system and be
    patient. Do not be intimidated into silence. Do not let the
    wealth or the size of your opponent dissuade you. At the end of
    the day, the power of justice sought through law and patience
    dwarfs any opposing force or party. 

    The rewards for enforcing justice are many. If you are a victim,
    justice is the miracle healer that accelerates the process far
    beyond just therapy. When a victim turns the tables on its
    former oppressor using the legal system they no longer remain a
    victim. The process transforms them psychologically and empowers
    them emotionally. There are also new laws like the SLAPP laws
    that protect the weaker or poorer parties from wealthy
    adversaries that are trying to punish them for speaking out or
    working for a better world. This is the good news.

    Lastly, I want thank all of the lawyers and former members and
    all the family friends and other people who, as a team, forced
    this ruthless cult to comply with the law. It could not have
    been done other than as a team.

    I promise that everything that Scientology sought to hide from
    public scrutiny in my case (by stopping the hearings with their
    $8,760,000 payment to the court) will go to the proper
    government authorities. Everything in my case that can be made
    available to other new cases suing Scientology will be made
    available as soon as possible.

    It is quite a paradox that the cult that vowed it would never
    pay me one thin dime has now paid over 86 million thin dimes not
    even including the $500,000 they paid earlier.”

    (Scientology has paid 10 of millions of dollars in past secret
    settlements but because of gag order and confidentially
    settlement terms none of the current or former members ever hear
    about this.)

    The FACTNet Staff & Lawrence Wollersheim


    Newspapers covering this story are:


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