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Transcript of CBS's Public Eye show on Lisa McPherson 1/7/98

Description of video in [brackets]. VO--VOICEOVER of Kristin

ANNOUNCER: Once again, live from CBS News, here is Bryant Gumbel

BRYANT GUMBEL (in studio): Since first attracting attention more than
30 years ago the tenets of Scientology have been reviled by critics
and revered by supporters. Those same supporters have earned a fierce
reputation for relentlessly using the courts to defend Scientology,
ultimately gaining it tax exempt status as a recognized religion. In
recent years, the church's profile has been enhanced by association
with a variety of Hollywood stars, famous folks who have put a shining
face on a self-styled church that's often clouded by secrecy and
mistrust. All of which brings us to a lawsuit in Florida, a wrongful
death suit that has pitted proponents of Scientology against the
family of a young woman who died in the prime of her life. Kristin
Jeannette-Meyers, herself a lawyer, details the sad end of Lisa

(17 DAYS--Producer: Bill McGowan)
{CW candlelight vigil 12/5/97-

Mark Dallara

-bagpiper playing "Taps;

Jeff Jacobsen holding sign - Dave Touretzky on right

Vigil member, Dave Touretzky blowing out candle in front
of Ft Harrison.

VO: She was not rich, famous, or powerful. but in death, Lisa
McPherson is grabbing headlines normally reserved for Scientology's
celebrity followers.

[Daytime picket--Picketer (I think it’s Garry Scarff) holding sign
with picture of Lisa and message "Honoring Lisa’s memory--Please don’t
let it be lost in the battle--Murdered by Scientology"]

VO: That's because after two years, the death of Lisa McPherson
remains to many a mystery.

[pics of Lisa, Ft. Harrison]
VO: Lisa, a devout Scientologist, spent the last 17 days of her life
confined to a room inside this hotel owned by Scientology. Church
records show that during that time, Lisa became violent, refusing to
eat or sleep.

[Dell Liebreich]
VO: The tragedy has left Lisa's aunt and closest living relative,
Dell Liebreich, searching for answers.

DELL LIEBREICH: I'm just very unhappy with Scientology.

KRISTEN JEANNETTE-MYERS: do you think criminal charges should be
LIEBREICH: I definitely do. I definitely do. Because I feel like
they killed her.

[pic of Lisa; Clearwater traffic]
VO: Lisa's tragic saga began on November 18, 1995. She was driving
down this road in Clearwater and got into a minor fender bender. No
one was hurt, but as a precaution, paramedics responded.

[Bonnie Portalano stepping out of ambulance]
VO: It was a routine call for Bonnie Portalano and her partner,
until the bizarre happened.

BONNIE PORTALANO: Lisa and the accident scene was behind our
ambulance. And he says, "You're never going to guess what she's
doing," speaking of Lisa, and I said, "What?" And he said, "She's
taking off her clothes."

[pic of Lisa]
VOICE OF BONNIE PORTALANO: And it was like a few seconds later she
came walking down the side of our ambulance with not a stitch on. As
I went to get her, you know, I said, "Lisa, Lisa," you know, "Why did
you take your clothes off?"

[Bonnie Portalano, back on camera]

PORTALANO: And she said, "I wanted people to think I was crazy so
then I could get some help."

[Morton Plant Hospital, hospital Patient Self-Release form signed by
VO: Paramedics took Lisa to a nearby hospital. Doctors wanted to
keep her overnight for observation, but Lisa said she wanted to leave
with a group of Scientologists who showed up at the hospital.

[Mike Rinder, Laura Vaughan]
VO: Mike Rinder is the director of the Church of Scientology
International. Laura Vaughan is an attorney representing Scientology.

LAURA VAUGHAN: What she told the people at the hospital is, she
didn't want to stay. I think if the doctor could have kept her, he
would have. But she expressed her desire to leave, and he had no
right to keep her.

JEANNETTE-MEYERS (outside Ft. Harrison): Lisa's friends brought her
here to the Fort Harrison Hotel, the spiritual headquarters of
Scientology. She arrived in good physical condition. When she left
two-and-a-half weeks later, she was near death. What happened to Lisa
McPherson during those 17 days has been the focus of an ongoing
two-year criminal investigation. Scientologists say the probe is a
witch-hunt, but church critics see it as an opportunity to expose what
they say is a dangerous cult.

DENNIS ERLICH: I was in it for 15 years. I know that it is a cult.

[Older picture of Dennis, picture of L. Ron Hubbard]
VO: Dennis Erlich says that during his days in Scientology, the
standard treatment for episodes like Lisa McPherson's was isolation, a
step originally prescribed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

ERLICH: The step consists of locking a person in a room where they
cannot communicate with anyone. No one is to communicate with them.
And they're to be kept there until they supposedly come out of their
psychotic state.

VAUGHAN: To an average person, we think isolation, that means alone.
And there's nothing nefarious or wrong about her being away from work
that might have been upsetting her, away from family that might have
been upsetting her, with people from the church who were with her 24
hours a day trying to get her to rest, trying to get her to eat,
trying to help her in a way that was in accordance with her religious

[Ft. Harrison, copies of handwritten logs, picture of Lisa]
VO: The only glimpse into Lisa McPherson's 17 days at the Fort
Harrison Hotel comes from logs kept by Scientologists who were
assigned to keep watch over Lisa.

[selected portions of the logs repeated in plain text underneath:
"She was out of control", "She refused to eat", "Blabbering,
incoherent", She was violent"]
VO: Despite Scientology's efforts to keep them confidential, the
courts have made them public. The logs show Lisa's physical and
mental state deteriorating over those 17 days.

[Mike Rinder]
JEANNETTE-MEYERS: Rest and relaxation sounds like a wonderful idea.
But the records say that two days into her stay she was spitting out
food and vomiting, four days into her stay she was ashen faced and
feverish, and then she became violent, striking the attendants,
hallucinating, thinking that she's L. Ron Hubbard, being too weak to
stand, soiling herself, crying, babbling, breaking things. At that
point, isn't it clear that it's not working?

RINDER: What’s not working?

JEANNETTE-MEYERS: Resting, taking her away?

RINDER: I don't think that that's clear at all. I don't think that
you can draw inferences or conclusions from what is said. You can
read other reports and later on there is a different perspective.

JEANNETTE-MEYERS: But these are the church records.

RINDER: Of course they are.

VAUGHAN: All of those things might say to you, as a
non-Scientologist, this person should be committed. But as a
Scientologist they would say that she's not to be treated like that,
psychiatry is abuse, and that is their right to believe that
psychiatry is abuse, it's Lisa McPherson's right to believe that and
to not engage in it if she doesn't want to.

[Shirley Cage and Brenda Spencer, two of Lisa’s friends]
VO: Shirley Cage and Brenda Spencer, two of Lisa's closest friends in
the church, agree.

BRENDA SPENCER: She would not have wanted to be treated by a
psychiatrist. I know that without question.

JEANNETTE-MEYERS: Even if it would have saved her life?

SPENCER: Even without question. I don't care what the circumstances
were, she would not have wanted to be treated by a psychiatrist.

[older pics of Lisa, pic of Lisa and her parents]
VO: When you look through Lisa McPherson's photo album, there's no
hint of the tragedy to come. She was pretty and popular, a member of
her high school drill team and a good student. But when she was 14,
her brother committed suicide. Ten years later her father, a
recovering alcoholic, did the same. So when a job supervisor
introduced Lisa to the Church of Scientology at the age of 18, she
embraced it as a surrogate family.

LIEBRIECH: She came home one day and told her mom and dad that she
had joined a church. Well, they were elated. They thought that was
great. Until they found out what it was.

[pics of Lisa, CoS building in CW, Sea Org members walking down
VO: Eventually Lisa even moved from her native Texas to Scientology's
spiritual mecca in Clearwater, Florida. She joined a group of
thousands who flock here every year to
attend courses and counseling designed to overcome what they believe
are traumatic memories from previous lives.

[statement of payments Lisa made to church--total $75,275;

picture of
VO: In 1994, Lisa spent more than one half of her income on those
courses. She worked for a publishing company with close ties to the
church, and helped spearhead Scientology community projects. Even her
vacations were taken on the Scientology cruise ship.

[footage of party, Lisa dancing]
SHIRLEY CAGE: She believed that that church was the most important
thing in the world, and that the good that it was doing was something
she wanted to be a part of, and she dedicated herself immensely.

[picture of Lisa receiving her Clear Certificate]
VO: In the fall of 1995 Scientology declared Lisa to be Clear, a
mental state the church says promotes inner peace and happiness.

[picture of Lisa]
VO: But what no one has been able to explain is how in two short
months that inner peace crumbled into emotional chaos.

[legal paper, part of which says "Dell Liebreich, as Personal
Representative of the Estate of LISA McPherson, Plaintiff, vs. Church
of Scientology d/b/a Church of Scientology, Flag Service Organization,
Inc., Defendants]
VO: That answer may come out through a wrongful death lawsuit the
McPherson family has filed against Scientology.

[Ken Dandar]
VO: The case is being handled by attorney Ken Dandar, who has his own
theory about what happened over those 17 days.

KEN DANDAR: So could you imagine Lisa McPherson, who is mentally
unstable according to Scientology, is having these people come in and
try to force feed her, and she's yelling and screaming at them. She's
banging on the wall. She's fighting with them. She's asking them
questions. But they are not allowed to respond to her. All they can
do is turn around and walk out the room, and then write a report to
the case supervisor and close the door behind them. And she's not
allowed to leave.

RINDER: Dandar is an idiot. That's my response to that. He hasn't
got a clue. He is the worst of the worst of what makes the American
legal system so out of control. He is an ambulance chasing gold

DANDAR: My reply to that is simple: If they had called an ambulance
for Lisa McPherson, I wouldn't be here today.

[ Fort Harrison is about 1/2" south of Tarpon springs in above]
[Ft. Harrison; map of Clearwater area including nearby cities, showing
about eight cities between Clearwater and New Port Richey; picture of
VO: The Scientologists never did call an ambulance. But on the 17th
day, Lisa was at last taken to a hospital in a church van. It didn't
take Lisa to the closest hospital, which was just a few blocks away,
or the second closest, or the third, or even the fourth nearest for
that matter. Instead, they drove to New Port Richey Hospital, 45
minutes away. And it was during those 45 minutes that Lisa McPherson

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