By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
"This person got into a lot of problems for having watched that," she says. "He shouldn't have watched that. He had to probably pay between $15,000 and $20,000 to fix that mistake. If it had come up in auditing, then of course I would have had to be handled on it and so forth, and probably spent a couple more thousand dollars to handle that."
In Scientology, a person is "handled" when they become "what the church calls a 'Potential Trouble Source,'" one who is "roller-coastering" or experiencing doubts about the church. According to Lombard, it's a costly process that aims to root out the reasons why someone would engage in activity that harms the cause of Scientology.
"In order to move on, you don't make your own program," she says. "The person in LA who's in charge of all the auditing is called a case supervisor. He would make your program, and the minute he would find out you looked at those kinds of materials, he would definitely make sure you [couldn't] continue until those things are handled. You are totally intimidated to think certain ways."
But in the throes of Scientology, Lombard was a faithful disciple. One could find her all over Orange County, offering E-Meter tests in front of grocery stores and at public events, including the Orange County Fair. She says the purpose of employing the E-Meter is to have would-be Scientologists pour their misery into the auditor and become convinced the auditor can see what they are thinking. Lombard would then sell the interested person a $5 booklet. As a volunteer, she says, she sold more than 1,500 books for the Orange County org.
"This was something that could save their life," she recalls thinking. "That was my viewpoint. Right now, my viewpoint is it does more harm than good."
* * *
By September 2008, Lombard was so trusted within Scientology she was asked to spy on troublemakers who protested at the church's international headquarters in Hemet, a sprawling compound for Sea Org members known as Gold Base. One persistent protester was Francois Choquette, who at the time used the pseudonym AnonOrange. In a telephone interview, Choquette alleges the church tricked him into showing up at a motorcycle shop in Orange County and thinking he was going to do a television interview about an electric motorcycle he had built. Instead, he claims, a church spy followed him to his Riverside County home, waiting along the way as Choquette made stops at a friend's house, saw two movies and drank at two different bars. "It's absolutely common," Choquette says of the spying. "I've been spied on by 18 different people."
Lombard was ordered to go with another spy to Choquette's home on a Saturday around 5:30 a.m. She and her fellow Scientologist held up signs calling him a terrorist. When the police were called, Lombard says, she and her partner told them Choquette was a terrorist, then stood outside the private community and handed out fliers to warn his neighbors about him.
According to Lombard, Scientologists are conditioned to believe those who come against the church are terrorists. Lombard was later ordered to talk with Choquette's neighbors to find out how he earned a living, she says. "They want to financially ruin people who protest Scientology," she claims. "That's their intent. They will try to find your employer, and then they will spread rumors about you, that you're a part of a hate group." Although she never discovered Choquette's income source, Lombard says, she was given another assignment: to spy on a Laguna Beach woman who frequently protested against Scientology in Los Angeles. Lombard parked on the woman's street on Saturday and Sunday mornings, for three-hour shifts, she says, then would report to the Orange County org and trade off with another spy.
In the meantime, Choquette was running into problems at Gold Base. At one point, Scientology security officers pulled him to the ground and held him until Riverside County sheriff's deputies placed him under arrest. Although charges against the protesters were dropped, Choquette filed a lawsuit against the church, which was recently settled. Choquette told the OC Weekly he can't discuss the terms of the settlement.
But the church's critics weren't only outsiders such as Choquette. In 2009, Lombard's son was surfing the web when he came across a story about Mike Rinder leaving Scientology. The church's chief spokesman defected amid a flurry of accusations that he and other executives had suffered beatings at the hands of Miscavige and that they themselves had beaten others. Lombard then read a series of articles by the St. Petersburg Times in which former top Scientology officials including Marty Rathbun and Amy Scobee blasted the church over what they said was rampant mental and physical abuse.
"For me, that was my reason to get out," Lombard says.
Scobee, who left Scientology in 2005, details some of the alleged abuses she saw during 27 years inside the church in her book Scientology: Abuse at the Top. Despite the church's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," Scobee claims, Miscavige regularly dished out violence on Scientologists, including Rinder. According to Scobee, Miscavige made a ventriloquist doll in Rinder's likeness and had "the doll say idiot things" to humiliate him.