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Hubbard: malevolent or maligned?

Title: Hubbard: malevolent or maligned?
Date: Tuesday, 1 April 1980
Publisher: Clearwater Times (Florida)
Author: Craig Roberton
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On Dec. 13, former Scientologist LaVenda Van Schaick filed a $200-million class-action lawsuit against the Church of Scientology in Federal Court in Boston, contending that the church falsely promises to improve the lives of its members. Since then, 10 other ex-Scientologists have filed affidavits in support of the suit, giving a glimpse of life within Scientology. The church has files motion to dismiss that case. It also sued Mrs. Van Schaick and others, contending that she is "motivated by malice." Last week, the church sued Mrs. Van Schaick's attorney Michael Flynn, charging that he and others stole church documents in Boston. This series of articles is based on the Boston affidavits.

CLEARWATER — Is Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard a distinguished, retired intellectual — a kindly genius content to live out his remaining years thinking and writing?

Or is he a profane, bellicose tyrant, whose life is consumed by neuroses, visions of power and an obsession with making money?

The first description is the one that has long been provided by church officials. The elusive Hubbard, they say, has relinquished operational control, of the church to others.

But a number of affidavit filed in Federal Court in Boston by former Scientologists recently give a startlingly different picture of Scientology's top man.

THEY DEPICT a man still very much in control of the Church of Scientology, a man whose every wish is catered to by his followers and, above all, a man is in love with money.

Among the affidavits is one by Silvana Garritano, who charges that Hubbard "was concerned solely with making money," a charge denied by the church.

Ms. Garritano, recruited to Scientology in New York in October 1977, says she served as "marketing secretary" under Hubbard and had a detailed knowledge of the financial structure of the church.

"Hubbard initiated every sales gimmick imaginable," Ms. Garritano says. "He ordered me to develop sales gimmicks to market Scientology more effectively."

One of the "gimmicks" was to take a Scientology course and divide it into two courses, charging the same amount for each as was charged for the single course previously and thus doubling the intake, Ms. Garritano says.

"All Hubbard ever talked about was making money," she says. "I can attest to the fact that Scientology was run as a moneymaking enterprise. There was no other governing policy and no other motive for our actions at the international level. 'Make money' was the only order we actually received from Hubbard.

"HUBBARD NEVER talked about Scientology as a religion. I was informed that Scientology had to be represented as a religion to meet certain legal requirements."

Ms. Garritano says Hubbard receives weekly financial statements from local churches throughout the world.

Ten percent of all income at local churches, she said, goes to a special "reserve account" controlled by Hubbard. (This is denied by the church, which says the 10 percent "tithes" are held in trust and spent on "defense and dissemination of Scientology."

"If the sales figures dropped below a certain level," Ms. Garritano says, "Hubbard became furious.

"On one occasion, when sales fell below $500,000 per week in Clearwater, he ordered a rice-and-beans diet three times daily for the entire staff. No one was permitted to break this order. Finally, sales jumped to $1-million per week, and Hubbard permitted the staff to return to another meal plan."

Milt Wolfe, a church spokesman in Clearwater who has been here since the church moved to the city in 1975, says he cannot remember any such incident.

ANNE ROSENBLUM, an ex-Scientologist who spent seven years with the church, says in her affidavit that she was on the church staff in Clearwater when the rice-and-beans order was issued. Such orders were "a common practice" when income went down, she says.

"The entire goal was to make money, make more money and make other people make money," Ms. Rosenblum says.

This alleged policy was impressed on a Scientology recruit named Marjorie Hansen in April 1978. She contends in her affidavit that she was prodded by church officials to come up with at least $3,000 if she wanted to receive all the benefits of Scientology auditing (the interrogation process in which a member's shortcoming are supposedly dissolved through use of an electronic device called an E-meter).

"I was questioned concerning my family members, friends, bank accounts, property and any other sources of money that I had," Ms. Hansen says.

She says she was finally convinced to get her mother to co-sign for a bank loan and to tell her mother that the money was for "tuition." She did so and gave it to the church.

Helping to make sure that such Hubbard policies are carried out is a network of "flag reps" stationed at each local church, Ms. Garritano says.

HUBBARD ALSO exercises tight control over local churches through the Guardian Office, the church's internal security unit that also handles external affairs, and his personal messenger corps, she adds.

Church spokesmen have long contended that Hubbard relinquished administrative control of church activities years ago. He now spends his time writing and doing "consultant" work for the church, they say, while day-to-day church affairs are run by a board of directors.

Ms. Garritano, however, says that board "does not exist."

"Orders and policy are initiated by Hubbard or by his executive personnel and approved by him," she says. "Hubbard, through the complex network he designed, controls the operation of the entire enterprise."

Just where he allegedly controls it from is a well-kept secret. Ernie and Adelle Hartwell of Las Vegas, who provide vivid descriptions of Hubbard's alleged profanity in separate affidavits, say they first came across Hubbard at a church ranch in La Quinta, Calif.

But after the Hartwells "blew" the church and revealed Hubbard's whereabouts to the press, according to Ms. Garritano, the crew secretly moved to another ranch at Gilman Hot Springs, Calif.

"Hubbard disguised his operation at Gilman Hot Springs as the 'Hoag Scholarship Foundation,' " Ms. Garritano says. "The idea was to convince local businessmen that a lawyer, Hoag, owned the place and that he conducted a program designed to help young people learn trades and skills. Hubbard's purpose was to conceal from public scrutiny the management level of Scientology."

DURING HER SEVEN years in Scientology, Ms. Rosenblum says, she also served as one of Hubbard's personal messengers, who she says tend to Hubbard's every need, including giving him back rubs, washing his hair and even dressing him.

(Church officials deny that messengers are "servants." They say Hubbard's personal messengers assist Hubbard "in his consultant work and in doing so . . . learn management expertise themselves.")

Ms. Rosenblum displays a vivid recollection of Hubbard in her affidavit.

"He had long, reddish, grayish hair down past his shoulders, rotting teeth, a really fat gut, and I believe at that time he had a full beard for disguise," Ms. Rosenblum recalls of her first meeting with Hubbard (a recollection that church spokesmen deny and term "a cheap shot").

"I found LRH was very moody and had a temper like a volcano," she adds. "He would yell at anybody for something he didn't like, and he seemed mad at one thing or another 50 percent of the times."

While church officials say Hubbard maintains "high standards" of cleanliness, Ms. Rosenblum says he is a "fanatic" about dust, laundry and cleanliness, Ms. Rosenblum says.

"There was hardly a day that he didn't scream about how someone used too much soap in the laundry, and his shirts smelled like soap, or how terrible the soap was that someone used (though it was the same soap used the day before), so someone must have changed the soap," she says.

"Well, believe me, no one argued with him. If he said someone changed the soap, that's all there was to it."

IF SOMETHING happened that was not to his liking, Hubbard often claimed that someone was trying to do him in, Ms. Rosenblum says.

"Even after his office had just been dusted top to bottom," she says, "he would come in screaming about the dust and how 'you are all trying to kill me!' That was one of his favorite lines — like if dinner didn't taste right — 'You are trying to kill me!' "

One day, when Hubbard was furious with a staff member over something, Ms. Rosenblum says, "he threw the person across the room. Needless to say the person was busted off his post (job) and assigned a condition of 'stupid' (LRH would do that to people when he became really mad — assign them 'stupid') and ordered no to communicate with anyone else . . . on the ranch."

Ms. Rosenblum also relates a bizarre story about Hubbard's wife Mary Sue and two pet dogs she kept on the ranch. The dogs were considered "special," she says, because they were "clear." Being clear is about the highest state a Scientologist can reach.

Moreover, she continues, the dogs were able to detect "overts" and "withholds" (evil thoughts) in pre-clears.

"THE DOGS BARKED at anyone who had overts or withholds," Ms. Rosenblum says. "I first met one of the dogs when I walked into the living area of LRH and Mary Sue. The dog came tearing out of Mary Sue's room barking and raising a racket . . . At the time it titally distressed me. I started walking around wondering what deep, dark, terrible overts I had committed on LRH or Mary Sue in this life or past lives."

(Church spokesmen say there is a long-standing joke about Mrs. Hubbard's dogs — but that is all it is.)

Ms. Rosenblum says she believed all this because the Scientology experience had left her with "no ability to reason."

"Everything could be justified if LRH said it, wrote it or believed it," she says. "If I doubted, I thought it was because of something wrong with me."

Frequently, church recruits say, they would not even question their superiors when told to sever all relationships with family members, spouses or loved ones. The policy, called "Disconnection," will be reported in our next article.