Scientology Targeted South Park's Parker and Stone in Investigation (UPDATED)

Stone (left) and Parker
Stone (left) and Parker

UPDATE: New Scientology internal documents about the investigation of Parker and Stone leaked. See our new story here. Also, Scientology responds to this story, and we decode their response for you.

NEW: filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman confirms that he was asked about Trey Parker and Matt Stone by Scientology's Eric Sherman in 2006. And Mark Ebner adds more confirmation that OSA followed people who worked on the 2005 South Park episode. Also, a private investigator describes sifting trash for the Church of Scientology.

Another interesting revelation at Marty Rathbun's blog this morning: Rathbun released what he said was an internal Scientology document which suggests that the church targeted Trey Parker and Matt Stone for a classic OSA investigation in retaliation for the infamous South Park episode that exposed the religion's bizarre upper-level teachings.

Rathbun tells me this initial document is just the beginning of a trove that describes how Scientology investigated Parker and Stone over a significant period after the duo deeply embarrassed the church with its 2005 episode, "Trapped in the Closet."

Marty Rathbun himself was once a powerful executive in Scientology who defected in 2004, and since 2009 has been criticizing church leader David Miscavige at his blog. At various times this year, Rathbun has made public similar documents which reveal the covert operations of Scientology's Office of Special Affairs.

The document he revealed today suggests that Scientology had identified Parker and Stone's close friends, and was examining public records on those people, looking for a vulnerability.

"To find a direct line into Stone and Parker some of their friends have been identified," reads the document, which reads like a typical OSA report on an ongoing investigation. The church's information allegedly was coming from Eric Sherman, a film consultant who Rathbun identifies as a Scientologist (the Voice is attempting to reach him), and who had talked with Troma Studio's Lloyd Kaufman for information about Parker and Stone.

Several friends to the South Park duo are then identified: writer Matthew Prager (That's My Bush), actor John Stamos, actress Rebecca Romijn, and writer David Goodman.

"These connections are being PRC'd," reads the document, and Rathbun explains that the acronym stands for "public records check." Scientology's standard procedure would be to put its private eyes on a complete check of these people and their property, legal, and other public records. If they owed taxes, or had been in messy divorces, or had been arrested, Scientology would soon know about it.

"There are some strings that will be pulled on the PRC on Stone," the document reads, suggesting that investigators had already found something about Matt Stone in public records that would make him vulnerable.

"Otherwise the special collections will be debugged in order to get some viable strings that can be pulled," the document then reads, and Rathbun explains that "special collections" is Scientology's code for trash digging.

I asked Rathbun what kind of things OSA's operatives would be looking for in the trash of Parker and Stone and their friends.

"Phone records. Bank records. Personal letters that expose some kind of vulnerability. They'll read stuff into the kind of alcohol you're drinking and how much. Prescriptions. They'll figure out your diet. They can find out a lot about you through your trash," he told me this morning by phone from his home in South Texas.

"You can see that the commanding officer is pissed off and not enough is getting done," he says about the final lines from the OSA document. But additional documents show that the investigation did get going in a big way, and we'll have more about that soon.

The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology #1: L. Ron Hubbard #2: David Miscavige #3: Marty Rathbun #4: Tom Cruise #5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin #6: Anonymous #7: Mark Bunker #8: Mike Rinder #9: Jason Beghe #10: Lisa McPherson #11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants) #12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives) #13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists) #14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists) #15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics) #16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ #17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano #18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive #19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons) #20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures) #21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church #22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members) #23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church) #24: David Touretzky (and other academics) #25: Xenu, galactic overlord

Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


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