Scientology's Crushing Defeat

A previously unpublished saga of an $8 million check

Miscavige is wearing his naval Sea Org uniform in several photographs gracing the latest copy of International Scientology News, a publication mailed to advanced members. Taken aboard the Freewinds, a cruise ship that houses Scientologists while they audit the highest levels of OT materials, Miscavige is seen handing out awards, plaques, and giving a speech “of the past year’s stellar accomplishments and breakthroughs.” [The Freewinds is now sailing nowhere, after Caribbean officials discovered earlier this year that it was contaminated with asbestos and ordered it docked until it can be rehabilitated.]

There’s no mention in the magazine of the Wollersheim payment among the year’s accomplishments or breakthroughs. Despite Scientology’s $8.7 million cave, however, Miscavige may still have plenty to beam about.

Wollersheim, Leipold and others may believe that Scientology paid the $8 million to prevent a court hearing that could jeopardize its standing with the IRS, but tax experts say that it’s hard to believe that even the most damning evidence, as well as a definitive judge’s ruling, would sway the IRS to reopen an investigation of an enemy it battled for so long.

Scientology leader David Miscavige, in full Sea Org regalia. Miscavige's
status as "captain" of the Sea Org was central to a court case that resulted
in the largest court penalty in Scientology history.
Scientology leader David Miscavige, in full Sea Org regalia. Miscavige's status as "captain" of the Sea Org was central to a court case that resulted in the largest court penalty in Scientology history.

“The IRS wrongly, as I believe, entered into a closing agreement with this cult,” says Donald C. Alexander, a former IRS commissioner. “I don’t think the IRS is going to go back and unravel that closing agreement as much as it might be in the public’s interest to do so.”

Alexander was commissioner in the 1970s, when Hubbard’s agents were breaking in and stealing from government offices. His conference room was bugged and he was unnerved by 2 am phone calls on his unlisted home number. But while he was commissioner, he says, he vowed never to give in to Scientology’s harassing tactics. “One of my successors didn’t feel that way,” he says. “Maybe [Fred Goldberg] actually believed this thing was a church. Stranger things have happened, but I can’t think of any.

“I’m glad Scientology had to come up with almost $9 million. I wish it had been $90 million,” he says.

New Times made repeated requests to speak with Miscavige and other high-ranking members of Scientology to ask about the $8.7 million payment and why it was made. All calls were returned by a local spokesperson, Linda Hight.

“The Church of Scientology of California has been trying to end this for a very long time,” Hight says. “They just raised the money somewhere and paid to be done with it.” Asked where the money came from, Hight says she doesn’t know. “I don’t know who put up the money. But there are millions of Scientologists in the world, and I’m sure some of them would have been happy to end the whole thing.” (Scientology often claims to have six million members worldwide, a number derided by critics, who put the membership much lower, usually less than 100,000. In a videotaped deposition, Scientology president Heber Jentszch admitted several years ago that the six million number does not represent current membership but the total amount of people who have ever, since the founding in 1954, taken even a single Scientology course.)

David Chodos, attorney for the Church of Scientology International, says that the $8 million check didn’t come from either CSI, RTC or the old, dormant CSC. “I just handled the transaction. I didn’t arrange for the funding. Funding had been made available. I don’t know where it came from, really...I wasn’t concerned where the money came from.”

When Hight was asked about Young’s analysis of Scientology structure, Miscavige’s position, and honorary versus earned rank in the Sea Organization, she replied, “I can’t fathom what the significance of what that would be.”

Tory Christman, a former Scientologist who helped handle Scientology’s PR, says that most parishioners, who avoid reading or watching the news, are probably unaware that the payment to Wollersheim has even been made.

The defeat has certainly not seemed to affect business.

In the most recent issue of Advance!, the magazine of the Los Angeles headquarters, Scientologists are encouraged to begin their advanced training on the OT levels after “going clear.” To entice them, the magazine contains stories by other Scientologists, identified only by initials, who have already attained advanced OT levels and have used their new abilities in what they call “OT phenomena.” One man writes of two gravel trucks bearing down on his automobile in what would have been a sure collision and his possible death—until, using his OT abilities, he slowed down time and made beams come out of him to hold back the screeching trucks. Another Scientologist took over the body of a man who was losing control of his car on the freeway, righted the car, and calmed the driver down. Another man pacified a ghost that, unseen to others, was bothering workers in his office building.

Also in the magazine is a price list for Scientologists anxious to attain their own extraordinary OT powers. A compact disc with some of L. Ron Hubbard’s lectures lists for $1,623.75. The Super Mark VII Quantum E-meter retails for $5,280.00. The OT III materials, which tell the Xenu story and reveal the alien nature of the soul, is discounted at $7,040. And packages needed for high-level solo auditing (done by oneself at home), vary from $24,222 to $63,888. [More recently, Jason Beghe, an actor who announced in April that he had left Scientology after twelve years, revealed that he’d paid about $160,000 for a single set of procedures called “L Rundowns,” and over his entire career gave Scientology about a million dollars.]

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