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
In 2001, she claims to have seen an enraged Miscavige tear into Rinder's office and, without warning, strangle him until his face turned colors and he could no longer breathe. "Miscavige hit Rinder on the top of his head, then tipped over the chair, knocking him to the ground," Scobee writes. "I have no idea why he did this. When he was done roughing up Mike, Miscavige left the office, and that was the last anyone heard about this incident."
In a telephone interview with the Weekly, Scobee, who lives in Washington, says she witnessed at least a dozen instances in which staff members were beaten, and has reported them to the FBI. Scobee hopes Scientology's top celebrity adherent, Tom Cruise, can somehow be convinced to sever his relationship with Miscavige. "I hope he wakes up and sees the best friend he is protecting is an egotistical, sociopathic, sadistic asshole," she says.
According to Scobee, not even Cruise-caliber celebrities are allowed to know about Scientology's inner workings or deepest secrets. Instead, they are treated with kid gloves and aren't asked for financial donations, she says. When actor Tom Berenger took an introductory course in Los Angeles, he told a female supervisor he was going to take a cigarette break. According to Scobee, the supervisor told him that was against the rules.
Berenger walked off the campus and never returned. "She was toast," Scobee says of the supervisor.
Because she worked for the church, Scobee says, she didn't have to pay for services such as auditing. However, when she left, the church sent her a "freeloader bill" for past services that totaled "a quarter of a million dollars," she says.
As Lombard and her family began to research the church's history, it was as though they had somehow woken up as characters in a bad science-fiction movie. But Lombard was shocked to discover her friends didn't agree. Many of them refused to read any material critical of Scientology.
"When you're in, everything is true, and if you don't think it's true, well, then you need to get handled," Lombard says. "Then there's something wrong with you because you don't understand it; you don't have the awareness to understand it. . . . And once you shake that off . . . it's a tremendous freedom. It's a freedom I guess people usually take for granted. . . . It's insane to think of in this day and age."
Since her friends wouldn't listen, Lombard hoped Choquette would. She says she apologized to him and the Laguna Beach woman for spying on them. Lombard also offered to testify on behalf of Choquette during his court battle with Scientology. "Anybody who wants the story, I am there," Lombard says. "I will be speaking."
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Now 56 years old, Lombard is an outspoken crusader against the abuses she claims Scientology heaps upon its adherents. "It is a cult," she says. "It's a cult to the degree that it has its grip on the people, and the people aren't able to think freely, and I think the minute you aren't able to think freely, you can say that you are in a cult."
But she doesn't regret her time in the church. "It's like with every experience, you learn stuff," she explains. "I learned a tremendous amount of different things to do with how to fool people and how to keep them in a trap. . . . In the beginning, I learned communication and stuff like that, but the secrets of the universe and all that? No."
Since she left the church, more than 150 friends have dropped Lombard from Facebook, and she has had several unpleasant encounters with Scientologists, including a man at a Trader Joe's who rebuked her for becoming apostate. In November 2009, she was served a "non-enturbulation order" by the Orange County org for supposedly agitating the church by spreading her disaffection with Scientology.
Nearly a year later, in October 2010, the Orange County org served her a "suppressive person" declaration and officially expelled her from the church. Among several alleged ethics violations, the org said Lombard had an opportunity to handle her situation, but instead of taking the chance, the declaration stated, "Paulien attempted to recruit two upstat staff members to participate in her mutiny against Church Management while they were trying to help her, proving herself to be a squirrel."
The church uses the word "upstat" to describe successful Scientologists. A "squirrel" is a heretic, someone who perverts Scientology's teachings for his or her own purposes.
Now, Lombard, who once spied on others, became a surveillance target herself, something she realized one day when she was leaving her house with her daughter and happened to notice a familiar-looking woman parked on her street. "They've had spies on me," she says. "We took a picture with our cell phone, and the minute we took a picture, she sped off. Her assignment, I guess, was to make a picture of [me]."
Later, the woman caught up with Lombard at the intersection of Chapman Avenue and Harwood Street in Orange. Lombard said the spy snapped a photograph of her and her daughter before speeding off. Lombard isn't scared. She says the church has so many protesters now that it can't keep up. Instead, they focus on bigger names that have left the organization.