Hammer attack on television team from REPORT Mainz in Scientology stronghold
February 7, 2000
Research on Gottfried Helnwein ends with violence
A team from ARD magazine "REPORT Mainz" was attacked while doing research in Clearwater, Florida in front of artist Gottfried Helnwein's house by a man armed with a hammer. The camera man, Mark Bunker, was struck twice during the attack; his camera was damaged. He himself was unwounded. The REPORT team from "Suedwest" broadcasting was there to research the artist's Scientology background before the re-hearing of the Helnwein proceedings in Frankfurt Superior State Court. Journalist Peter Reichelt had previously managed to discover the location of Helnwein's secret residence in the vicinity of the Scientology Central in Clearwater.
Gottfried Helnwein, whose spectacular, hyperrealistic paintings found their way to the covers of "Stern," "Spiegel" and "Time," was described as a Scientologist by two associations critical of Scientology. Among other things, they accused him of being a "clergyman" in a group "which uses coercive hypnotic procedures with the help of a lie detector to destroy people's psyches to control them." In response Helnwein sued for a desist order, but was defeated in the second set of hearings before Frankfurt Superior State Court (case nr. 16 U 163/95). At the end of 1998, the Federal Constitutional Court overturned that judgment and referred the matter back to Frankfurt (case nr: 1BvR 1531/96. That is where the case is to be heard anew on February 17.
The core issue of whether Helnwein is actually a Scientologist, remains unanswered before the court. ARD magazine REPORT had managed to find previously unpresented evidence indicating Helnwein's membership in the Scientology organization.
When "REPORT Mainz" wanted to interview Helnwein, the door was closed on the camera team in front of Helnwein's house in Clearwater. Only a few seconds later, an attacker armed with a hammer and a pointed object came out of Helnwein's house and attacked the team on the open street. The district attorney's office in Clearwater is currently reviewing whether charges will be pressed against the attacker (case nr.: 00-2996). According to findings of REPORT Mainz, it involved a man who had been listed as a course graduate in a Scientology magazine in 1992. The incident has already been reported upon in detail in the U.S. media.
SWR Chief Editor and REPORT moderator Bernhard Nellessen said of the violent incident in Clearwater, "When reporters and their staff are attacked because they wanted to conduct an interview, it appears they have hit a nerve on the other side.
The piece on Helnwein and Scientology will be broadcast at 9 p.m. on Monday, February 7, on "REPORT Mainz."
German Scientology News