By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
Such lavish amounts for religious instruction, Scientologys critics say, is what allows it to spend so much fighting its foes. Or offering to buy them.
Years ago, Wollersheim was offered $8 million to walk away from his judgment. They hinted they would go as high as $12 million, he says. But he refused the money. He says he had seen too many other former members accept settlements and the confidentiality agreements that came with them.
Wollersheim is glad that he turned down those offers. His judgment is the first Scientology has ever paid outright, attorneys familiar with Scientology litigation say. And now, Wollersheim hopes, his victory will encourage others to leave Miscaviges fold and expose it for what it is.
I blazed the trail, he says. Now others are going to come and turn it into a four-lane highway.
[Six years later, Wollersheim is still fighting over the money Scientology finally paid. A woman who worked as a paralegal on his case, Leta Schlosser, sued Wollersheim (in a lawsuit named Wollersheim 6) for $5.3 million of the Scientology cash. In a trial presided over by Judge Hess, a jury awarded her $313,000, which Wollersheim says he immediately paid. But Schlosser appealed, saying she was owed more, and is asking for yet another trial. Exhausted, Wollersheim has retired from the day-to-day operation of factnet.org, an Internet clearinghouse for information about Scientology. I have a good life in the sense that Im a minister. I have satisfying work. And I know that the work Ive done [fighting Scientology] will help others, he says. As for getting his one thin dime, he says: A lot of it has gone to lawyers, its going to litigation, its going to taxes. Im working a 40-hour job. It was never about the money. I never thought Id get paid. It took 30 years, he adds. But despite his own experience, Wollersheim encourages others who feel theyve been harmed by Scientology to pursue litigation: in almost all other cases, he says, Scientology settles. Victims of Scientology should take advantage of it and get their lives back, he says. Scientology, meanwhile, has much bigger headaches than Larry Wollersheim these days, now that Cruises antics have helped bring a new level of media and Internet scrutiny. Scientology continues, however, to maintain its tax-exempt status.]