After the jump: An ID of the man, “David Statter,” who is behind the Squirrel Busters siege.
ADDED: Video of Marty Rathbun speaking with Bert Leahy about his experience as a Squirrel Buster.
A stunning article was posted late last night by Corpus Christi Caller-Times reporter Mark Collette: one of the Squirrel Buster’s freelancers is blowing the whistle on the Scientology goon squad’s effort to harass former church official Marty Rathbun.
Previously, Collette had got the Squirrel Busters — a group that surveils Rathbun’s Ingleside on the Bay home for hours every day — to say that it was doing so because the group is working on a “documentary” about the former church executive.
But Rathbun maintains that the group is just there to intimidate him, and has been sent by the church itself to punish him for breaking away and offering independent Scientology counseling services to other people leaving the organization.
Rathbun says he should know: when he was an executive with the church, it was his job to do the intimidating of other former members.
And now, a freelance videographer is telling Collette that Rathbun is right.
Freelance videographer Bert Leahy told Collette that he was hired at $2,000 a week by a man named David Statter to join the Squirrel Busters, and was told outright that his job was less to create a film than to harass Rathbun to the breaking point:
“Dave flat-out said our goal is to make Marty’s life a living hell,” Leahy said. “That’s a quote. He never said ‘stalk,’ but he said make Marty’s life a living hell with every means possible of impeding his everyday living, and make it so miserable for him and his neighbors that his neighbors will want him to move.”
As Collette points out, however, Rathbun has found support among his neighbors, who have been offended by the methods of the Squirrel Busters, who film the neighborhood constantly and have showed up to video Rathbun at dinner in town.
The Ingleside on the Bay council was so concerned by the Scientology intimidation squad’s actions, it passed an ordinance that would require any film crews to get special permission to work in the town, but later rescinded it.
Leahy, the videographer, worked on three shoots of Rathbun before becoming uncomfortable with the job. He was paid $900 for his work and later reached out to Rathbun to apologize.
Leahy says the Squirrel Busters told him they are “upset” with Rathbun because, they said, he charges “$2,000 to $5,000 an hour” for his independent Scientology auditing. (Scientology calls people “squirrels” who do this kind of counseling outside the official church. This is why they wear T-shirts with a photo of Rathbun’s head on a squirrel’s body, and refer to themselves as Squirrel Busters.)
Rathbun told Collette, however, that a “third to a fourth” of the people he counsels pay him nothing. Others do so on a voluntary basis. And Michael Fairman, the character actor we’ve written about before, told Collette that what he ended up donating was far less than what he used to pay Scientology:
Fairman, 77, stayed with the Rathbuns for four days after Thanksgiving in 2010. Like Wilson, he says Rathbun never asked him for money. He donated $1,000 anyway. “I’m used to paying $7,800 for 12½ hours of auditing,” Fairman said.
It’s hard to believe that the Squirrel Busters are really motivated by whatever donations Rathbun is receiving from people he counsels. Collette’s story seems to confirm instead what Rathbun has been saying all along: using techniques that he himself helped perfect while he was for many years a Scientology enforcer, Rathbun is being targeted for intimidation and harassment simply because he poses such a danger to the church and its leader, David Miscavige.
Author Janet Reitman has described Rathbun as a modern day Martin Luther, leading a growing breakaway movement from Miscavige’s official church.
That’s apparently such a concern to Scientology, it is reacting the way it has many, many times before: with goon squads and intimidation. Squirrel Buster John Allender, however, continues to insist to Collette that he was leading the group simply as “my documentary project,” and that they had not been sent by the church.
But Leahy, the videographer, told Collette that from a hotel room, Statter was talking to people from Los Angeles. (LA is one of Scientology’s two main hubs.)
“He had like a control station, like a war room,” Leahy said. “Laptops, GPS’s, paperwork. He’s on the phone saying I need to order 55 more Squirrel Busters hats. He was constantly on the phone to people in Los Angeles.”
Perhaps our readers can think of something, but I can’t remember a Scientology “fair game” operation that has been so thoroughly exposed and hung out to dry while it was happening. Will Scientology keep trying to drive Rathbun out of his Ingleside home, when the town and local media are so aware of what it’s doing? The siege continues, at least for now.
UPDATE: Following up on a tip from “Scientia,” in our comments section, I called Rathbun and asked him about the identity of “David Statter.” In Collette’s story, that’s the name that Leahy says was used by the man who hired him and was coordinating the Squirrel Busters actions from a hotel “war room.”
Rathbun says that Collette called the phone number for “Statter” that Leahy gave him. Leahy then received a voice mail from the man he knew as David Statter. He shared the voice mail with Rathbun.
“It’s definitely Dave Lubow. And Bert has identified his picture, too,” Rathbun says.
Lubow is a private investigator that Scientology has used for years for its intimidation campaigns, Rathbun says. Former church spokesman Mike Rinder made a similar claim recently in an interview that Mark Bunker conducted for his upcoming documentary, “Knowledge Report”:
Rinder explains in the video how he had direct contact with Lubow in the surveillance of Bob Minton. He said he had told Lubow: “Get the goods, find out everything about the guy, and figure out how he is going to be stopped from doing what he’s doing.”
Rathbun tells me that he had seen Lubow on occasion as the Squirrel Busters team was continuing its stake out of his house, but he didn’t know the extent of Lubow’s involvement.
“He’s been here, in and out like a mosquito. What I didn’t know is that he’s been here continuously, coordinating things,” he says.
With Lubow’s involvement now seemingly confirmed, there’s really little question at all (if there ever was a question) that the Squirrel Busters siege is an official church operation to intimidate Rathbun.
AND NOW, VIDEO OF BERT LEAHY TALKING TO MARTY RATHBUN:
Rathbun posted this at his blog. Leahy accuses Scientology private eye Dave Lubow of “totally misrepresenting” what the “stalk-umentary” was all about.
EVEN MORE VIDEO OF BERT LEAHY TALKING ABOUT “SEAL TEAM SIX“
AND A THIRD INTERVIEW WITH LEAHY
HERE’S PART FOUR WITH LEAHY
See all of our recent Scientology coverage at the Voice
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin’ Scared
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he’s been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard’s organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga — Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story — How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection — A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Robert Cipriano Case — A Hellacious Example of Fair Game
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum — The ‘Crash’ Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape — ‘Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle’
The Aaron Saxton Accusation — Australia turns up the heat on Scientology
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation — Scientology’s former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross — Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
A Church Myth Debunked — Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back — Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack — The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
A Scientologist Excommunicated — The Michael Fairman SP Declaration
The Richard Leiby Operation — Investigating a reporter’s divorce to shut him up
The Hugh Urban Investigation — An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology’s past
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh — A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link
Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology — A masterful telling of Scientology’s history
The Western Spy Network Revealed? — Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige
Scientology’s Enemies List — Are You On It?
Inside Inside Scientology — An interview with author Janet Reitman
Scientology and the Nation of Islam — Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman!
Scientologists — How Many of Them Are There, Anyway?
Roger Weller’s Wild Ride — Scientology When it was Hip
The Marc Headley Infiltration — A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed
Placido Domingo Jr: Scientology’s Retaliation is “Scary and Pathetic”
An Interview with Nancy Many, Former Scientology Spy
The Paulien Lombard Confession — A Scientology Spy Comes Clean
The Deputy Benjamin Ring Hard Sell — Scientology wants your 401K
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology