I said, "I feel very sick." By the time I got there, my legs started to go into a spasm and my hands crumbled up and I couldn't feel the left side of my face.
I became very frightened. And I said, "I feel that I am maybe getting a heart attack." I couldn't breathe; I had severe pains in my chest. The Medical Officer said -- he looked like he was concerned. He hadn't been concerned before. But he said -- he studied for a while and then said, "Well, go to your room and rest for a while." This is the first time I had been told to rest and not put on physical. work.
I said, "You don't understand, I feel that something is happening to me." I was trying to tell him I needed medical assistance. He looked again and said, "Well, why don't you come back in about an hour and let me know how-you're feeling?" And I was trying not to get upset.
And then, my left side really went into a spasm and my -- something happened to the air; I couldn't breathe. And he made a phone call, he got a car, and I was rushed to a doctor. It was an oriental woman; I forgot her name. I think she's on Fort Harrison Road. It's about five minutes from the Fort Harrison.
I went in there and she gave me a pill to take. I
found out'-- I asked her later and it was a Valium, which I had never taken in my life before, but it was to relax me. And she said that.-- she gave me an electrocardiogram, and I was to stay there for about an hour. She said that my heart was fine. She said I hyperventilated and I had muscle spasms from nerves. She said I was suffering from extreme stress, from physical exhaustion.
And she said, "I know you're part of the Church of Scientology and I know that you must be very conscientious." She said, "I noticed a lot of the people there are in the same state," because they obviously had come to her. She said, "They work too hard, too many hours." She said, "You have to learn to rest."
She prescribed walks for an hour a day and hot baths three times a day, and certain things that I had to do to rec- uperate, which I actually never did..
I don't know where I'm up to from here.
Anyway, I'll briefly end it here, my leaving Clearwater. It got worse and worse and worse: my physical state, my mental state. At one point, the Ethics Officer, her name was Sunny -- I was doing errands for her because they didn't know what to do with me. So, they were just keeping me with the Ethics Officer and giving me little chores to do to watch me.
She asked me if I would just help her to go to the airport because they had a Scientologist who was leaving Scientology and they knew that his wife would want to leave with him. And they had to physically restrain her at the airport, and could I help with this. It was a stupid thing to ask me. My -- I guess she realized it soon after and said, "Well, never mind. I think we have enough people." So, I knew at this point that they would physically restrain me, and I had a feeling that something really bad would happen if I tried to blow again.
So, I decided to say anything that I had to say to leave. I said that I was -- I was -- it was my case. I said -- and I finally said the right thing to leave. I said, "I decided that I need more NOTS auditing. And my case is in such bad shape that I can't do it while I'm in the Sea Org. I'm chronically ill, so I don-It really fit the requirements here. So, I'm going to go home and I'll just sell my business and I'm going to come back to Flag and I'm going to buy my NOTS auditing." So, this obviously was the right thing to say at the time.
I went to see the Registrar. He gave me an estimate of $20,000.00. I said, "That'll be a breeze." I
said, "My business is worth more than that. I'll get the money very quickly." At that point, I was able to leave with no one stopping me. It took me a couple of weeks to recuperate when I got back to New York. I -- it took me about two weeks before I could function normally, and I had the effects for probably a long time.
I'd like to describe after lunch what happened after that. But basically, that's when I left the org.
MR. LeCHER: Thank you very much. It's been very enlightening. I'm glad you're here and you're doing a wonderful job, and I hope you're not too nervous.
Come back.after lunch around two o'clock and we'll continue with our discussion.
This meeting is now recessed until two.
(Whereupon, the luncheon recess was taken.)
Afternoon Session
MR. LeCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to the Clearwater City Commission Hearing with reference to Scientology.
Again, we're here on our second day, and starting
May -- Monday, the Scientologists will have the equal opportunity that the city has had up to this point to present their side of the issue and, also, their witnesses.
We are back in session' and we are interviewing now Lori Taverna. And Lori has been speaking earlier today, this morning. She has specifically been speaking about Clearwater.
I would like to have you continue your remarks. I would prefer that you keep it, if possible, specifically, again, to Clearwater with respect to what's going on there. And again, stay away from anything that might be construed as religion or-faith or worship.
And so, Lori, would you like to start? And tell us in your own words.
What I'm going to do now is refer to my notes and fill in anything
MR. LeCHER: Sure.
MS. TAVERNA: -- that I left out earlier.
Specifically, as to the living quarters at the Fort Harrison ~- or how it was to be there as a student
or as an auditor: I mentioned that it was very overcrowded, there's ten bunks in a room. There were also many bugs
in the room. There were roaches; there were ants on the sheets. There was -- I don't know what it is. It's a very large
bug that looked like a roach that would fly around the room regularly.
MR. LeCHER: I think they're called palmetto bugs.
MS. TAVERNA: Well, I've never seen those before.
MR. LeCHER: We all know them.
Also, there was one bathroom for ten people. To get ready in the morning was very hassled.
When I was at Clearwater when I was a student and when I was an auditor, we had thirty minutes to eat where we had to I was taking courses over at the other bank building, and we had to run to the Fort Harrison, then, we had to wait on the line with, sometimes, thirty people, get our food and eat it, and be back on post for roll call in thirty minutes. So, most of the time we didn't eat or we had indigestion. That part of it is very upsetting. If you were late, even a minute, you had to go to Ethics and have handling or do conditions to make amends for being late.
I'd like to speak a little bit about the Medical
Officer. I mentioned times that I was ill. I did see the Medical Officer a few times.
The first time I saw him was when I arrived in Clearwater. I was told that I had to get a shot, and I said, "What was it for?" And he said it was a hepatitis shot. And I said, "Well, why do I have to get this?" And he said because I just came from Los Angeles and at the Los Angeles Organization there was an epidemic of
-hepatitis. So, anyone arriving from Los Angeles had to get this.
At first I objected. I -- you know, I don't take that much medicine and I didn't know really what it was. But I agreed and I had a shot from the Medical Officer.
When you're on NOTS, you also -- NED for OTs auditing, people are required to take certain vitamins. You have to take B 1. 1 think it was five hundred milligrams - I'm not sure - which I think is very large. And you also had to have three or four glasses of something called Calmag. This is calcium magnesium, and you have to drink this. This is something for your nerves, which is like a natural tranquilizer to keep you destimulated, as they call it, during processing.
I had a bad reaction to both of them. I had nightmares from the B1. It was an overdose of vitamins. But
all people were required to do this.
One instance that I disagreed with when I was there was there was a little boy who was ill. He was one of the children of the staff members at the Fort Harrison. And I was called in to help to audit this little boy because I had a good reputation as an auditor.
So, I went there and I found this little boy. He had a hundred and five fever. He was unable to move his head and his neck. I think it was like symptoms of meningitis or something like that. He was very flushed and feverish. And the case supervisor was the person who directs you in auditing and had instructed me to run some processes on him, basically, to handle any upsets.
And I went there with my E-Meter and I had this little boy pick up the cans; he was too weak to hold the cans. So, I-- ~ust didn't do it. I said, "This child is too sick to receive auditing. I think he should go to a doctor." The Medical Officer said, "Well" -- he had a medical book in which he looked up certain things. And he said, "I don't feel that he's in any danger. We'll see how he is tomorrow."
so, he didn't -- the boy didn't see a doctor. I don't know if he did after I left. I never went back, but I had that little boy on my mind. And I felt it was
improper handling to audit this -- a kid who was sick.
Oh, one thing I neglected to say before: After I left Flag-unauthorized and came back, I was then guarded. I was watched constantly. I felt that I had to sneak to make a phone call. I was also told that I was not allowed to speak to my sisters. Two of them there were not allowed to communicate. And I was moved out of the room.
So, my sister was now at the Gray Moss Inn, and I had to move into a dorm with other Scientologists because I guess they didn't trust me to be out of the building because I had already run away one time. So, I actually snuck out a few times at two in the morning to go across the street to talk to my sister, Rosie. And this was like a high crime.
We weren't allowed to communicate because we had what they called mutual upset; in other words, we would conspire, like, I would tell her what was bothering me and it would stir up a conspiracy. So, for maybe a month or so, I was not allowed to speak to my sister.
And, also, after I came back, the first night before we got separated, a Scientologist was sent to our room at the Gray Moss Inn to guard us during the night while we were sleeping, which
MR. LeCHER: Go at you?
MS. TAVERNA: Excuse me?
MR. LeCHER: 'Go at you, you're saying?
MR. LeCHER: Guard?
When I -- she came into the room and she happened to be a friend of mine who I knew from New York. And I said --
I convinced her finally that I wasn't going to run away again, and I didn't. I promised her I wouldn't. She said her
assignment was to guard us and stay in the room during the night so we wouldn't leave. I felt sorry for her, because I
knew if I did leave after I promised her that she would have some sort of punishment. -And I didn't plan on running
away again anyway. But they did guard us.
.-When I was at the Fort Harrison, there was a thing called the RPF, which is the Rehabilitation Project Force. I never felt good about this. There's a lot of things in Scientology that I never felt good about. I saw them and kind of just didn't understand them, especially, when I saw some of my friends in this RPF, very nice, good people.
One day they would be fine and smiling and, then a good friend of mine, the next day, she was in this RPF. She was -- everyone in it has to wear blue. They wear blue shorts and shirts. They're not allowed to speak to anyone. They had to always run; you're never allowed to stop. If you stopped running, you're punished or put into something more severe, which is called the RPF's RPF, if you break the rules. That's something that most Scientologists don't know about. I didn't know that much about it at the time.
But all I know is what I saw. I saw a few people who looked very sick. One woman had sores all over her body, open sores. I went into my friend. I asked her if I'm allowed to speak to her. She said, "You can speak to your friend, but in the RPF they're not allowed to communicate to anyone outside the RPF."
So, I went to her, and she kept her head down. And when I addressed her, I said -- her eyes were all swollen, she had been crying. And I said, "What happened?" *She said she couldn't talk about it, and she said -- she called me "Sir." As a matter of fact, this is the person who recruited me for that Operation Z, a very bright, beautiful, young girl. And-in the RPF, if anyone speaks to you, you have to address them as
"Sir." And I felt very upset for her. I cried, thinking that she was calling me "Sir."
But she just said, "It's going to be fine," you know, through tears in her eyes. And I don't know the details of why she got in there.
People in the RPF are not allowed to eat with the rest of the people. After we finished eating, they would come and eat whatever, you know, was left, you know, same food, though, but never sit at the table with another person. They're considered a lower -- you know, a lower level. And the purpose of it is to rehabilitate them because they have become so degraded and so psychotic that they have to be separated and go through this particular physical work. They work for half a day and get audited or processed for half a-day until they come up to the next level.
Another thing I've never felt good in Scientology about is the care of children. I have three children and I've always given them my full attention. A t the Fort Harrison, they had a -- I never had my children at the Fort Harrison. But it happened to be right downstairs from the Medical officer. So, whenever I would go there, I would glance in and see the children.
Once I heard a child screaming very loudly. I went
down just from instinct, you know, and I walked into where they keep the children. There was a toddler, he was all alone. His diaper wa's falling off and he was screaming. There was no adult there. I just picked him up and, you know, patted him a little bit.
Several times there were other children wandering around fighting with each other, you know, the way children do. It was right next to the parking lot in the back, and -- but they did have a gate there so the children wouldn't go out. But many times I saw them -- they were kind of just left there. I can't say I know exactly how they were cared for, but from what I saw they were dirty. The room Z went into was a mess; there were no sheets on the beds; and there were things thrown all around the room.
As far a s education goes, in Scientology for all the years I've been in, there has been a put down of education by Ron Hubbard, by Scientologists. The school system is suppressive. A Scientologist has said to me several times, "You're not sending your kids to college, are you?" And I said, "Of course, I am." And she said, "How could you do that," as if I was committing a crime.
As recently as last week, my daughter has a friend
who's a Scientologist - she was at her house - and the mother -- Debbie mentioned when she goes to college she's thirteen now. And the mother said, who's a Scientologist, "Debbie, why would you want to go to college?" And she said, "Because I want to learn about this and that." And she said, "Ron Hubbard has the greatest technology in the world. You don't need college; college is a waste of time." She said, "What do you want to learn?" She said, "Well, I want to learn about the business world." She said,' "Even if I don't have my own business, I want to be smart so I can understand it." She said, "Ron Hubbard has the greatest business technology and managing/administrative technology there is and you can get it in Scientology. You should be taking your courses and going clear."
So, education is discouraged very much in Scientology. It's a suppressive organization that doesn't really teach you anything. And as long as you have your Scientology training, you're going to make it in the world.
My daughter was in the Sea Org.; she was in there for seven months while I was training here in Clearwater. She had no schooling at all. She said she went to school, I think, three times. She had to work from eight in the
morning till ten-thirty at night seven days a week. And they said there was no time for school.
She was told that she would have weekends off in the Sea Org. This never happened. She got Saturday afternoon off for three hours because stats were up. She soon realized that this was not what -- she was in the wrong place. I wasn't there, but she was living with my brother-in-law, so she never actually lived in the quarters with the other children.
My daughter has gone to Scientology schools since she was born, literally. She went to a nursery and, then, she had all her education up until she was eleven years old in a Scientology school. I discovered -- well, guess, she was ten -- up until ten. I discovered when she was ten or eleven that she didn't know math. I felt very negligent. I assumed -- she's a brilliant girl. She was reading at three years old, very mature. Somehow it came out that she didn't know the two times table. Nothing.
I got very, very upset. I went to the school, and they begged me not to take her out. They told me that the GO would pounce on her; that was the words that they used. The Ability School was run -- I don't know the details, but the GO had some authority over the way the school was
run. And the people who ran it said, you know, "This would be very bad if a Scientologist took their child out." I said,
"I don't care what it looks like. My children I want my children to have an education and this is absurd."
I took her out and I put her in public school. She immediately went up to fifth grade math. She was -just she's very bright. She was never taught anything in the school. The school was run like a Scientology organization; they had Ethics conditions. The children were also taught about the enemy in the outside world. Scientology children have an attitude that it's the suppressives out there and Scientologists.
They've often said things. to my daughter about going into the WOG world. A WOG is someone not in Scientology. And when they heard she was going to public school, they frightened her. They -- my daughter cried for three days because she thought they were going to kill her in public school. And since then, she's out of Scientology. She knows everything that I do now.
But basically, the -- education is totally put down in Scientology.
When I was in Los Angeles recently, visiting my sister, I helped out in a Scientology private school. It
was called Renaissance School. I'm not an official teacher, but I was helping because they didn't have anyone. There was a boy there who was nine years old. He had been brought up in the Sea Org.; his parents both were in and he was born in. He -- I understand from the. owners of the school that he spent most of his nine years in the Children's RPF. I don't know what that is, but I assume it's the same thing as the adult RPF.
This boy couldn't read one word at nine years old. And I taught him how to read his first word, and I taught him his first sentence. And he just -- he was crying that he could read one sentence. He was nine years old, and-he was born in Scientology and sent to Scientology schools.
I also know that the children have a lot of illnesses. I don't know -- I didn't see it, but my sister was there. And the children in the child care org. in Los Angeles -- a friend called my sister and said, "I need help. My son is very ill and I don't know what to do."
My sister went there and her friend's son had a fever and was crying. His job was to be the nanny; he was to watch the younger children and he had a high fever. She went to the Medical officer and she said, "This boy
is sick; he needs a doctor." He said, "He's not sick; I examined him. And he's supposed to be on post." He said, "There's nothing wrong with him." He said, "I already know what it is. The children have herpes."
And my sister walked in and she saw infants -- she saw babies on the floor. They had sores all over their face and mouth. And my sister went into a rage. She went in and she said, "I want these children taken care of." And the Medical Officer said, "Well, who are you? What are you doing here?" He said, "As a matter of fact, I won't talk to you anymore." He said, "We don't have any money for a doctor."
So, she said, "Well, you get the money." And then, finally, my sister got so mad, she said, "Well, if you don't do something about these children right now, I'm calling the Board of Health." When she said that, she got a lot of attention: GO people, "Do you realize what you just said?" She was declared PTS, threatening to embarrass or sue Scientology, one of those categories.
The Medical Officer called her -- he said, "You just committed a suppressive act." She said, "No. You committed the suppressive act." She said, "I want these children cared for."
So, I know this goes on. I've *seen it. I've seen
many sick children in Scientology, and it's looked at that you should be on post. They don't need a doctor.
The Medical officer sometimes acts as a doctor. I've never seen them administer medicine, but it's more neglect than administering. They don't get the proper medical care.
Something I neglected to say: When we first arrived at the Fort Harrison in Clearwater here, you had to get security clearance before you're allowed on the -- to be officially here or to get -- to be on NOTS. It takes about a week. -They check your life; they check everything.
And the person in charge was Skip Henson at the time. And you have to get -- read some beginning indoctrination of how to respond if anyone in Clearwater asks you a question. There are certain set answers that you should give if a resident happens to say, "What are you doing here? What happens at the Fort Harrison?"
I don't remember what they are exactly, but it's something to the effect that !'If anyone asks you anything, 'I'm here for religious counseling.'" It was something like that, but I can't remember.
When they had rallies, you were told that the mayor was a suppressive person, that the officials in
Clearwater were suppressive. They were trying to stop -- stamp out Scientology. We had GO briefings. When they had some sort of rally here, we were instructed. I think the woman's name was Nancy. She was giving the briefing.
MR. LeCHER: Nancy Risi?
MS. TAVERNA: Yes. She gave the briefing.
And she said that "If any reporters or anyone comes to you, don't answer any questions about anything. Refer them to me."
We were also instructed -- every time some type of official would come into the Fort Harrison, students were given a little slip or a-form: "The Fire Commissioner is coming," or "Some lawyers are going to be here," "Some WOGs are coming," you know, something like-this. "Dress a certain way tomorrow because so and so is coming." We always had warning before any type of inspection was done. They would clear up whatever that particular thing was.
MR. LeCHER: A WOG is an outsider, again?
MS. TAVERNA: A WOG is a person who is not. in Scientology, so that's how they refer to someone like that.
I think that I covered most of my notes here.