Title: Repost: One less scientologist in the world
Unit 61 <zjohznabzlez@ezxeczpc.com>
Date: Wed, 20 May 1998 12:39:21 -0700

Stacy Young wrote:
> Scientology is spreading the word far and wide through its Office of
> Special Affairs network that I have gone into the business of forcible
> deprogramming. During the past two weeks, OSA operatives have literally
> stalked me across the country. They have known my travel plans and have met
> my flights at various airports. They've known where I was staying and have
> showed up at my hotel rooms. They have harassed me while I was having
> lunch, and they have interrupted me at dinner to take my photograph.
> The amazing thing is what I actually did to cause all of this commotion: I
> sat down with a young scientologist and told her about my own firsthand
> experiences in scientology. I gave her some information. That's all I did.
> After she had received the information, she decided she didn't want to be
> in scientology any more. No force, no violence, no coercion. Just a free
> flow of information. Freedom of choice.
> Does this qualify as "deprogramming" at all, much less "forcible
> deprogramming"? I certainly don't think so. Personally, I would describe
> it as a conversation between two adults exercising their rights of free
> speech and free thought. But let me tell you the whole story of what has
> caused OSA to be so afraid of me, and then all of you - scientologists and
> non-scientologists alike - can decide for yourselves.
> I've just spent several days in New Orleans with a wonderful family, the
> Wessels. Their 27-year-old daughter Lara was recruited into scientology
> about a year ago, and her family watched with alarm as their loving,
> vivacious daughter's life was gradually enveloped by scientology. She had
> been an aspiring, very talented actress, but once she got into scientology
> she dropped her acting career entirely. The family had been very close,
> but Lara had become distant. All she would talk about was scientology. Her
> family was afraid they were going to lose her forever.
> Lara's father Dave has some friends who were peripherally aware of a
> network of people who deal with the cult problem. He contacted several of
> his friends, who put him in contact with Monica Pignotti, an exit
> counselor in New York, and Paul Grosswald, a former scientologist from New
> York. Monica invited me to participate because she knew I had recently
> helped another young woman who had left scientology on her own but had
> been in really bad shape emotionally and psychologically by the time she
> left. I had flown to the east coast to spend some time with her, and I had
> been able to help her and her family simply because I have so much
> information about what goes on and how it works inside.
> So, after a long conversation with Lara's father Dave, he asked me to come
> down to New Orleans because he thought I might be able to contribute some
> useful information which Lara could use to make a decision about what she
> wanted to do.
> I arrived Tuesday (before Monica and Paul) and spent the evening with all
> of Lara's family - her parents, her sister and her family, her brother and
> his family, her aunt and uncle. It was very heartwarming to see how much
> Lara is loved by these people. She is so lucky to have a family that cares
> about her as much as they do. They had many, many questions for me, and I
> answered them as well as I could. Lara had been home for the New Orleans
> Jazzfest for nearly two weeks, and the whole family had been on pins and
> needles, trying not to antagonize her by showing any negative feelings
> about scientology. It had been exhausting for all of them.
> Lara had been vigorously trying to recruit her entire family into
> scientology ever since she'd been home, and everyone had been as polite in
> their refusal as possible. She wanted them all to take courses at the
> Baton Rouge mission, and she was sure that once they did a course they
> would see why she was ready to dedicate the next billion years as a member
> of scientology's elite Sea Organization. As horrified as the family was,
> they had tried hard not to show it. Instead, at every opportunity her
> brother Kris and her Aunt Shirley in particular had asked Lara if she
> would be willing to speak to anyone about another side of the scientology
> story. They told me Lara had said yes, she would. The family all agreed
> Lara had been an independent thinker all her life, and they hoped that
> that strength of hers would enable her to listen to legitimate
> information, even if it was negative about scientology.
> But now that the time had come, the family was extremely nervous and
> wanted to make sure they knew what to do. The plan was for her brother
> Kris and her Aunt Shirley, the two people she trusted the most, to take
> Lara out for lunch the next day and tell her that her father had invited
> some people to New Orleans who could give her some new information about
> scientology if she was willing to listen to them. The family was
> particularly worried about this step. What if she got angry and said no?
> What if it drove her further into scientology and made the situation
> worse?
> From what they had told me about Lara, it didn't sound like she would
> refuse. She loved her family enough to be willing to listen to another
> side of the story if it was clearly important to them that she do so. It
> also sounded as if she might already have begun to have doubts about her
> involvement. I had not yet met her, but I had the feeling she was quite
> strong-willed, with a mind of her own. I thought there was a good chance
> that Lara would agree to listen to what we had to say.
> By the end of the first evening the family was somewhat reassured, having
> realized that there was nothing mysterious in the least about what was
> about to happen. If Lara agreed to talk to us, we would provide her with
> information that she had not had access to as a scientologist, and with
> this information Lara would be in a position to make an informed choice
> about whether or not she wanted to continue her involvement in
> scientology. If she refused to talk to us, we would leave. It was as
> simple as that. But, I told them, I was confident that she would agree,
> perhaps out of a combination of love for her family and curiosity about
> what kind of information we might have.
> The next morning Monica and Paul arrived and we all met at the hotel while
> Lara met her brother and aunt for lunch. As the time approached for the
> meeting, we all piled in the car and drove to Lara's parents' house,
> where, we hoped, Lara would soon join us. We made small talk for a while,
> trying not to be nervous, but we all jumped when the phone finally rang.
> It was Lara's brother Kris. She had agreed to meet with us, and they were
> on their way. We all breathed a sigh of relief. The first big step had
> been made!
> Kris, Shirley and Lara arrived within a few minutes. Lara came right up
> to me, shook my hand, and said cordially, "Hi, I'm Lara. Nice to meet
> you." She did the same with Monica and Paul.
> I asked her if she was nervous, and she said, "Yes, I guess I am a little
> bit, but I'm interested in what you have to say. Let's get started."
> We began by introducing ourselves and telling Lara briefly about each of
> our histories in scientology. Monica had been in for six years, and she
> had been with Hubbard on the ship. Paul had only been in for six months,
> but he had joined the Sea Org in New York, where Lara had also joined, so
> they had had similar experiences and knew some of the same people. I had
> been in for fifteen years, at the Advanced Organization in Los Angeles and
> later in the Guardian's Office, Author Services, Inc., and the Office of
> Special Affairs.
> Monica and Paul told her about some of their experiences, and Lara's
> response was pretty much to say, "OK, but that kind of thing can happen
> anywhere. No organization is perfect. It doesn't change the fact that
> scientology helps a lot of people."
> I said, "That's true, and I used to feel exactly the same way. But I
> experienced some things that finally forced me to re-evaluate my
> relationship with scientology. I'd like to share those experiences with
> you so that you have a clear picture of the kind of organization you're
> involved in."
> Lara shrugged. "OK," she said. "I'm willing to hear what you have to say."
> I spent about 45 minutes telling her about some of the experiences I had
> in scientology. I told her that during all the years I was in scientology
> I had always believed that if I could only move high enough up in the
> ranks I would find scientology being practiced the way I thought it should
> be, based on the policies I had read. But then I got all the way to the
> top of the hierarchy, working directly with David Miscavige, and
> discovered that, if anything, it was worse all the way at the top than it
> had been lower down in the ranks. I told her about some of the things I
> saw Miscavige do to staff, some of the things he ordered me to do to staff
> which I refused to do, and I told her what happened that led me to refuse
> to work with him at all, for which I was sent to the RPF.
> When I was finished with my story, Lara decided she didn't want to be part
> of a group in which people were abused the way I was, and the way other
> people were that I described. That was literally all that happened. She
> was given some information that she had not had previously. Monica and
> Paul also gave her information, not only about their own experiences in
> scientology but also about mind control and how it works. And that was the
> extent of what happened that caused Lara Wessel to decide she no longer
> wanted to be a scientologist.
> Lara made her decision on Wednesday evening, May 6, the very first day we
> talked to her. The next day, Thursday, we were all over at her sister's
> house watching some videos of shows about scientology and mind control
> when her father arrived with the news that two scientologists had showed
> up at his house looking for Lara. He told them she had gone out of town
> for a few days, thinking that would cause them to go away. Of course, as
> we would soon find out, this just fueled their paranoia that Lara was
> being "forcibly deprogrammed."
> Thursday evening Lara's aunt surprised us all with tickets to the New
> Orleans symphony. The music was wonderful and we all enjoyed ourselves
> immensely, particularly Lara, who commented on how happy she was to have
> her life back. After the program we were supposed to meet Lara's brother
> and his wife for dinner. But when Lara called him he told her an
> incredible story.
> The New Orleans police and an ambulance had arrived at their parents'
> house, all lights flashing. The police had received an anonymous phone
> call that someone was committing suicide inside the house. No one was home
> (since we were all at the symphony) so the police gained entry to the house
> and searched it. Finding no one, they finally left.
> We had warned the Wessels that scientology would not believe Lara had
> decided on her own to leave scientology, that they would believe she had
> been coerced or forced in some way to leave. But even we were
> flabbergasted that scientology was going this far. Lara and her father
> went down to the police station and both made statements about what was
> happening. Lara made it clear in her statement that she had spoken to us
> of her own free will, that she had not been coerced in any way, and that
> she had decided to leave scientology based purely on the information she
> had received.
> We all thought that would be the end of it, but we were wrong. The next
> night, Friday night, Monica, Paul and I headed back to our hotel and Lara
> and her parents all went to bed by 10:30. At about 11:30 Lara was awakened
> by flashing lights shining through her bedroom window and the doorbell
> ringing repeatedly. She was afraid it was an OSA helicopter coming to get
> her and she ran upstairs to her parents' room for protection. She woke her
> father, who went downstairs and discovered several police officers at the
> front door.
> The police said they had received an anonymous call that someone was being
> held against their will in the house and they wanted to come in and check
> it out. Lara's father said they were welcome to come in but said he
> thought he knew what this was all about and explained to them about what
> had been happening with Lara and scientology. Then he called Lara, who
> came upstairs in her pajamas and told the police she was not being held
> against her will, she loved her parents and was very glad they had helped
> her get out of scientology. The police by now were angry about being
> manipulated by scientology, and one of the officers told Lara's father
> that if he had any more trouble from scientology he would see that the
> offenders were arrested.
> By now the entire Wessel family was astonished and alarmed at what
> scientology was doing. Certainly Lara was seeing a side of scientology
> that she had never seen before. We explained to them that it is literally
> impossible for a scientologist to accept the fact that someone might make
> an informed choice to leave scientology. A scientologist firmly believes
> that the only way someone in Lara's position would leave scientology would
> be if they were forced to do so by being handcuffed, gagged and held
> against their will. So these people who were orchestrating all of these
> incidents truly believed they were trying to help Lara escape from the
> clutches of evil forcible deprogrammers. The family just shook their heads
> in amazement.
> Saturday Monica and Paul left, and Lara and I had a relaxing day. We had
> lunch at the House of Blues and she showed me a little bit of New Orleans.
> Then we headed back to my hotel room so she could watch a couple of videos
> that she hadn't had a chance to see yet. About 8:30 that night there was a
> loud knocking at my hotel room door. I opened it and there stood two
> heavy-set women, looking very serious. One of them pushed past me and
> elbowed her way through the doorway, saying, "We're here to see Lara
> Wessel. Where is she?"
> Lara and I looked at each other in disbelief. More scientologists! Not
> wanting to be rude, I invited the women into the room and introduced Lara
> and myself. The two women looked surprised at my invitation but they came
> into the room, obviously uncomfortable. I asked them their names. "Mary,"
> the dark-haired woman said. "Tracy," said the blond one. "No last names?"
> I asked. Tracy said, "You don't need to know our last names."
> I invited them to sit down on the bed, which they did, and we all sat
> around chatting for quite a long time. Lara told them what had happened -
> that she had gotten information about scientology that she hadn't had
> before and based on that information, she had decided she would rather not
> be involved in it. This was completely unacceptable to Mary and Tracy.
> Didn't Lara realize that everything someone like me would tell her was a
> lie? Lara told them she didn't think any of us had lied to her, and she
> urged them to get the same information themselves. "I don't want to hear
> her lies," Tracy said in disgust.
> I was able to find out that they were both public scientologists on lines
> at the Baton Rouge Mission. I explained to them that at their echelon they
> wouldn't know about the kinds of experiences I had at the upper echelons
> of scientology management, and that much of what I had seen had caused me
> to realize scientology was not what I had thought it was.
> Tracy turned to Lara and, incredibly, said, "But look, what if you were a
> Catholic and you found out the Pope was banging some nun at a convent?
> That wouldn't keep you from being a devout Catholic and having the
> benefits of Catholicism, would it? Well, it doesn't matter what's going on
> in scientology management. You can still have wins and get up the Bridge
> to Total Freedom. What difference does it make to you and your life what
> management is doing?"
> Lara and I were both speechless for a moment at this candid outburst. I
> recovered first and said, "Tracy, as a devout Catholic, wouldn't you feel
> some responsibility for at least making it known to the Pope that you
> didn't approve of his conduct? Wouldn't you feel it was awfully
> hypocritical of the Pope to bang this nun while insisting that all the
> Catholics in the world respect the sanctity of marriage? I personally felt
> that if the leadership of scientology was as corrupt as I discovered them
> to be, I couldn't condone their behavior by continuing to be a
> scientologist."
> Tracy obviously felt she had made a blunder with her analogy of the Pope
> and the nun. She tried to change the subject back to my lack of
> credibility, but Lara interrupted her.
> "I don't think you realize," Lara said, "that you aren't the only ones who
> have been to see me and my family." She detailed all of the events of the
> past several days, including the police and the flashing lights, the
> sirens, being awakened at nearly midnight, how it had really frightened
> her and her family. "At this point I have to tell you that you're
> inadvertently involving yourselves in a pattern of harassment and invasion
> of my and my family's privacy."
> At this the two women glanced at each other uneasily, and then they both
> stood up.
> "It was very kind of you to invite us into your room," Tracy said. "I
> think it's time for us to be going now."
> Mary asked if we would be willing to watch a video with their side of the
> story. We both said absolutely, we would watch it. She said she'd get it
> to us, and then they left.
> The next morning it was time to say goodbye. It was a sad parting, because
> Lara and I had gotten to be good friends. But we promised to get together
> again soon.
> A production crew for a Swedish TV station had asked me to meet them in
> Washington, D.C., for an interview, so I caught a plane to D.C. The New
> Orleans trip had been emotionally draining for me. Settling into my seat
> on the plane, I was suddenly exhausted. I looked forward to a relaxing
> evening at my hotel.
> But this was not to be. When I got off the plane in D.C., I saw Sylvia
> Stanard from OSA's D.C. Office of Public Affairs walking toward me. Sylvia
> and I have known each other since the late 1970s.
> "Sylvia!" I said as she approached me. "What are you doing meeting me at
> the airport?"
> "Well," she replied, "I hear you're in the business of forcible
> deprogrammings now, Stacy. I just want to make sure you aren't planning to
> kidnap any of my staff."
> I could see that she was dead serious, and I couldn't believe it.
> "What are you doing in D.C. if you're not here to deprogram someone?" she
> asked me. I told her I was there to be interviewed for Swedish TV, but she
> didn't believe me.
> "Why would they want to interview you? You don't know anything about the
> situation in Sweden," she said, eyeing me skeptically. "No, that's not
> what you're here for."
> I tried to tell her that all I had done in New Orleans was to give Lara
> information with which she then made her own decision. But it soon became
> clear to me that Sylvia was not going to believe me no matter what I said.
> In her mind, I was now a forcible deprogrammer and that was that.
> Then she changed the subject. She wanted to know what happened that got me
> out of scientology, so I invited her to ride with me to my hotel. I told
> her the whole story of Vaughn getting beaten up by Norman Starkey, and how
> Marion Dendiu, then the Org Officer at ASI, had taken Vaughn to her office
> and assigned him lower conditions for upsetting Norman so badly that he
> lost his temper.
> But Sylvia clearly thought I was lying to her. By the time we got to my
> hotel room she was back to worrying that I was going to kidnap  her staff
> and deprogram them.
> "Stacy," she said, "I want you to look me straight in the eye and promise
> me that you won't kidnap anyone while you're here."
> I got so exasperated with her that I called Lara and asked her to tell
> Sylvia herself what had happened in New Orleans. Sylvia and Lara chatted
> for about fifteen minutes, while I unpacked my suitcase. Sylvia seemed
> surprised that I didn't mind her talking to Lara, but my feeling was, why
> not? Maybe something either Lara or I said to Sylvia might get through to
> her and get her thinking. There is always that hope.
> Sylvia and I parted cordially that evening, and Sylvia said she'd like to
> get together with me while I was in D.C. I said that sounded fine. But as
> it turned out, it was not to be.
> The next day I met Joachim and Phillip, the Swedish TV crew. They filmed
> an interview with me in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel, and afterwards
> we sat in the hotel restaurant for lunch. Soon after we ordered, Sue
> Taylor and Alex Jones from OSA DC appeared at our table and began
> harassing us. Phillip picked up his camera and began filming the whole
> thing, of course. I was amazed that Sue was so rude to Joachim even though
> she knew she was being filmed and that it would appear on national
> television in Sweden.
> We finally persuaded them to leave so we could eat lunch, but ten minutes
> later Sue, Alex and Sylvia all came back to our table. They were totally
> in our face and it was impossible to eat our lunch. I excused myself and
> went and asked hotel security to escort them out as they were harassing
> us. I returned to the table and sat down, and pretty soon security arrived
> and said quietly to Sue Taylor, "If you don't leave immediately on your
> own, I will have to help you leave," whereupon they all filed out of the
> hotel.
> Bob Minton had to come down to D.C. on other business, and I had never
> actually met Arnie Lerma in person, so Bob took us both out on Tuesday
> evening for a nice dinner so we could finally meet each other. We were
> having a wonderful time when suddenly Matt Baraschi, one of OSA's more
> boorish operatives, appeared at our table and began snapping photos of us.
> It was incredibly offensive. I got up and convinced Matt to sit down next
> to Bob so I could take their photo together. He handed me his camera, and
> I immediately handed it to the maitre d', who turned around and took it
> into the kitchen to dispose of it. Matt jumped up and ran after him into
> the kitchen, creating an unbelievable scene in the restaurant. He soon
> emerged with his camera and stormed out, after accusing me of theft.
> Finally my trip was at an end. All of the confrontation with the
> scientologists had been exhausting for me. I fell asleep as soon as the
> plane took off and didn't wake up until the pilot announced we were about
> to land in Seattle. I was really looking forward to getting home and
> relaxing. I walked off the plane and into the terminal. The first person I
> saw was Vaughn, and the next thing I knew Ann Ruble, the DSA Seattle, was
> coming between Vaughn and me so that it was impossible for me to say hello
> to him. She had a man with her named Larry something -- I missed his last
> name. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. I couldn't
> believe they were there. Now I realized that I was virtually being stalked
> all the way across the country. They knew what flights I was on; they knew
> what hotels I was staying at, even what hotel rooms. It was unnerving to
> realize I was being watched so closely by these people.
> "Stacy," Ann said, "Sylvia called me and said you promised her you would
> call her and let her know before you deprogrammed any of her staff in D.C.
> I just want you to promise me the same thing here in Seattle."
> These people had caught Vaughn off guard. He hadn't realized they were
> scientologists at first, but when he did, it made him furious. He wanted
> to call airport security and have them escorted out. I convinced him to
> let me speak to Ann for a few minutes but she was actually quite rude and
> was clearly there only to harass me and try to frighten me.
> She said, "Stacy, you know who Rick Ross is, don't you? You don't want the
> same thing to happen to you here in Washington, do you?"
> Vaughn heard this and asked her if she was the one who supervised the
> leafleting of the town of Vashon with hate literature about us, or if she
> was the one who ordered our dog kidnapped and beaten almost to death. She
> denied any knowledge of those things, and even denied knowing who private
> investigator David Lee is.
> In fact, it is possible that she really hasn't been in charge the
> harassment we have been subjected to, and that she hasn't been kept
> informed other than what she has read in the local newspaper. It has
> probably all been run directly from Los Angeles. I don't think Ann would
> have the stomach for the dirty tricks they've run on us, certainly I don't
> think she would condone torturing our dog Mac. She is basically a caring
> person who thinks she is helping people by her involvement in scientology.
> She is just a dupe.
> Lara Wessel, in the meantime, is thrilled to have her life back. She is
> looking forward to getting her acting career back on track. She is happy
> to be able to have all of her old friends back. She is educating herself
> about mind control so she won't ever be taken in again. She is greatly
> relieved to be in control of her own thoughts again.
> After this experience it is more clear to me than ever that freedom of
> speech and freedom of thought are the mortal enemies of totalitarianism.
> No wonder scientology is out to destroy the Internet. No totalitarian
> system of government can survive the free flow of information. No wonder
> scientology is so afraid that one of their members might sit down and have
> a conversation with me. God forbid a scientologist gains access to
> information that is not under the control of the organization. God forbid
> scientologists begin to exercise their inalienable rights of free speech,
> free thought and free association.
> I hope I have many more opportunities to sit and talk with scientologists.
> I would be more than happy to share my experiences and insights with any
> scientologist who is interested in what I have to say. I can be reached at
> 206-463-6809. Feel free to call any time of the day or night.
> Stacy Young
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