Marty Rathbun: Scientology's Attorney "Supervised" Destruction of Records in Lisa McPherson Death

For the last year or more, Mark Bunker has been releasing short excerpts from his upcoming Scientology documentary Knowledge Report, and yesterday, he released a doozy.

Bunker had told me that he'd interviewed former church executive Marty Rathbun, and in this excerpt, we see Rathbun addressing the kinds of things many have wanted him to talk about: what happened with Lisa McPherson, a parishioner who died in a Scientology hotel in 1995? I have a feeling his responses here will cause as much skepticism as anything else, but what he has to say about Scientology attorney Elliot Abelson should cause an uproar.

McPherson died after she was held for 17 days at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida following a mental breakdown. As Janet Reitman describes in rich detail in her 2011 book Inside Scientology, McPherson had been a dedicated Scientologist whose life had increasingly spun out of control. Her death became the church's biggest crisis to that point, leading to a criminal investigation and years of civil litigation.

Rathbun was one of the top church officials whose full time job between 1996 and 2000 was dealing with that crisis. (He later left the church in 2004.)

Rathbun has previously admitted to destroying evidence in the case. But in this video, he provides more detail, and implicates Abelson.

In another interview with Mark Bunker, former top church spokesman Mike Rinder had characterized Abelson as "just a name," an attorney whom private investigators could say they were working for as they performed operations for the church.

But in this account, Rathbun says Abelson was more of an actor, claiming that the attorney "supervised" the destruction of evidence, and in Abelson's own office on Hollywood Boulevard.

Bunker tells us he's on his way to Oklahoma for this weekend's big protest at the Narconon Arrowhead center. But he sure dropped a bomb on his way out of town!


Lawsuit Filed Against Scientology's Oklahoma Drug Rehab

Jarrel Wade of the Tulsa World is reporting this morning that the parents of Hillary Holten have filed a lawsuit against Narconon Arrowhead, Scientology's flagship drug treatment center in eastern Oklahoma, where three patient deaths have occurred since last October. Holten, 21, died on April 11 after she had spent just two days at the facility.

Wade writes that Holten's parents accuse the Narconon center of accepting Holten as a patient without being able to adequately handle her medical condition, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which required daily medication.

Colin Henderson, another former patient at the center, says he left it when he could not get his blood pressure medicine while he was being treated -- Narconon's anti-drug approach even applies to prescription medicines, he claims, which can be risky for some patients.

Meanwhile, Narconon Arrowhead executive director Gary Smith has put out an open letter about the recent deaths. In it, he says that the Scientology teachings being utilized in Narconon treatment have been "completely secularized and contain no religious philosophy."

We're going to discuss that howler at more length soon.


Scientology on the High Seas!

In November the Voice obtained hundreds of copies of L. Ron Hubbard's previously unpublished "Orders of the Day," which he gave to crew members as he sailed the Atlantic and the Mediterranean on the yacht Apollo. Our documents cover the period from late 1968 through 1971, and this time we're looking at what was happening the week of August 19-25 during those years.

This week: Squirrels, rumors, hatting -- a Commodore's job is never done...


August 23: Another LRH humblebrag


I have C/Sed 1,912 sessions since the beginning of the Standard Dianetics Programme, I am told.

People were singing at renovations -- one not minor result!

There has been this year a tremendous lot of research development. Dianetics was made totally workable.

Last year was the Class VIII development.

There were 2 100-percent result programmes. They are inter-dependent. Between them, with earlier work, there are no barriers now to a totally sane and healthy society.

We have not done an institutional programme because we have no facilities to do it but we have the answers even there.

Tech is the theta thrust into the society. All new civilizations progressed on new technology.

In the main we face what is called a "cultural lag". The mental health field is stuck about 1450 AD. Dungeons, torture, illegal seizure, the "best" people. We are rolling at about 2050 AD. This time gap makes it nearly impossible for the society's witch doctors (untrained in logic or mathematics) to grasp what is going on. They lack even a purpose to make anyone well. Not even up to that. So we are impeded by a "cultural lag". By tying a bridge to medicine and healing we can overcome this to some degree.

Therefore the Standard Dianetics Programme was an enormous advance for us, not just in tech but in social advance.

So we are doing very well really.



August 19: LRH does a little Black PR


Been hearing reports on a couple squirrels -- Bernie Green (in NY) and Jack Horner (in LA). They've been goofing it up for ages. Typical no case gain cases, up to their ears in undisclosed overts. They'd sell their grandma for a fast buck.

Horner is wildly opposed to organizations or systems of any kind. He has the trick of talking somebody off the third dynamic into the first dynamic. He shows them how the system is doing them in and how it should all be only for No. 1. B. Green evidently got that way as a Terrorist in the Middle East. Horner totally flipped when he ruined one too many women. The first dynamic and the fast buck and how all systems are bad seem to be a common denominator to these poor nuts.


Hope you're enjoying Liberty and the Port.

LRH, Commodore


August 19: So many enemies


Heavy and bunch of bunk rumours on the lines that the State Dept is "out to get us". The story behind it is we stepped on the tail, hard, of a vice consul who threatened us and stepped hard. So now he's screaming. Just before his removal we hope. We reported him to his superiors.

The world has in it sharks, disease, consuls, falling trees, CIA, car wrecks, State Depts, lightening and other natural threats. You learn to live with them and stay alive by being alert.


We lost $2,000 yesterday on exchange due to the US dollar flap. A higher exchange was reported available.

Be careful with Exchange rate.


August 20


HCO P/L 29 Jul 71 Issue I WHY HATTING? is truer than I knew.

Musical Chairs in life is the mechanism below ARC Brks in Grade III! To unstabilize gives ARC Brks!

Whole staff can be put into a sad effect!

This is the mechanism govts use.

It's the basic tool of the socialist. If he can just unstabilize everyone he can kill them with degrade.

It's a basic tool of the insane to maintain their own stability by unstabilizing everyone else.

There's more to it, but its a major discovery that effects even the ARC Brk rud and affects the no case gain case.

So that's where I've been working lately in research and wow is it paying off!!!

It began when I assumed that the musical chairs we get in orgs was a social aberration not an admin error. From there it's been discovery all the way.

I'll have to write HCO Bs and P/Ls on it but wanted you to know the research line was making bulldozer progress.



August 25


Hope you had a nice liberty those that went and that you will have one, those going today.

All is calm in port.

Even the dollar stabilized.

Enjoy your day.


Marty Rathbun: Scientology's Attorney "Supervised" Destruction of Records in Lisa McPherson Death

More 1970s Awesomeness!

After L. Ron Hubbard had moved HQ from the yacht Apollo to the Florida coast, Advance! magazine was thrilling Scientologists with tales of "OT Phenomena." Those church members who had reached the higher levels of spiritual training shared their stories of superhuman powers with fellow dupes -- er, enthusiasts. This excerpt is from Issue 47, July/August 1977. (And another cover featuring a photo by the Commodore!)

A few weeks after returning from the AO, having completed full OT VII, I received a call from Leslie Bertarand, who had herself just returned from doing the full OT VII. We talked for a bit, and in the course of the conversation, she asked me how my love life was. "Funny you should mention that," I replied, "All my other dynamics are steadily flowering, but the second is completely zip."

She laughed and said, "Well, we're a couple of OT VIIs, and we should be able to create a 2D for you. I agreed, and she asked just exactly what I was looking for. I began seriously thinking about the actual specifics of my desired 2D, something I've never done before, and told Leslie my ideal scene.

Eight days later, I walked into the Mountain View Mission to do a Sunday service for them, and there my postulate stood, greeting people as they came in. I took one look and knew exactly who she was.

24 hours later, we were engaged. I've been looking for her for 25 years this lifetime alone, and all it took was OT VII and a superbly clean postulate.

Now that's what I call an OT win! -- Eric Barnes

Recently, my wife Nancy went to England for training. It's the first time I've been separated from her since we got together. Now I see that we're not separated at all. At first, I was kind of sad until I noticed that I was flying over on the airplane with her. Since then, our comm line has gotten increasingly better. I find that I can even carry on conversations with her to some degree, and almost always know what she's doing and where she is. It's very nice when she calls me or writes me and confirms that she was doing what I thought she was and that she did receive the comm that I gave her, and see the things that I saw with her! -- Joe Hochman

OT Romance! You wonder why you don't hear more about it. I mean, if you have the power to alter matter, time, and energy, just think of the dating applications!

See also: "Tom Cruise worships David Miscavige like a god" Scientology's president and the death of his son: our complete coverage What Katie is saving Suri from: Scientology interrogation of kids Scientology's new defections: Hubbard's granddaughter and Miscavige's dad Scientology's disgrace: our open letter to Tom Cruise Scientology crumbling: An entire mission defects as a group Scientology leader David Miscavige's vanished wife: Where's Shelly? Neil Gaiman, 7, Interviewed About Scientology by the BBC in 1968 The Master Screenplay: Scientology History from Several Different Eras And a post that pulls together the best of our Scientology reporting

Please check out our Facebook author page for updates and schedules.

********** Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.

New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.

As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.

Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.

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