On August 5, we started a countdown that will give credit — or blame — to the people who have contributed most to the sad current state of Scientology. From its greatest expansion in the 1980s, the church is a shell of what it once was and is mired in countless controversies around the world. Some of that was self-inflicted, and some of it has come from outside. Join us now as we continue on our investigation of those people most responsible…
Kendrick Moxon is very good at his job.
The Scientologist and attorney is renowned for making the prospect of litigating against the church a very uncomfortable experience — and he’s been at that work for quite a long time.
Moxon goes back so far, before he was an attorney he was caught up in the government’s crackdown on Scientology’s “Guardian Office,” which carried out what is still the largest illegal infiltration of federal agencies in this country’s history. That covert operation, dubbed “Operation Snow White” by the GO, was a massive undertaking, an attempt to quietly break into government offices to steal documents that were unflattering to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. In 1977, four years after it began, the operation resulted in FBI raids in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, and 11 church officials ultimately pleaded guilty or were convicted of obstructing justice and other charges. One of the officials was L. Ron Hubbard’s wife, Mary Sue.
Hubbard himself, like Moxon, was named an “unindicted co-conspirator,” and wasn’t prosecuted.
Moxon then was a legal affairs employee in the Guardian’s Office. He went on to become a lawyer, and these days, he’s known for how uncomfortable he can make a deposition.
“He has made a career out of being a pit bull for the church in the legal arena,” Mike Rinder says.
Rinder was a longtime high-ranking member of Scientology and its chief spokesman before he left the organization in 2007. He also, at one time, oversaw the Office of Special Affairs, which replaced the Guardian’s Office as the church’s intelligence and covert operations wing. And his work made him intimately familiar with Moxon’s role.
“He’s been a lawyer for the church from the early 1980s. He teamed up with a guy named Tim Bowles to form ‘Bowles and Moxon.’ But effectively, they were in-house counsel,” he says.
“He is very good at needling people in depositions, and being smarmy and trying to get under people’s skin. That’s what he’s renowned for. To needle and antagonize people and to get them to say things they probably didn’t want to say,” Rinder adds.
So if he’s good at what Scientology wants him to do, why is he on this list? Take it from someone who’s dealt with the guy — he’s one of the chief reasons Scientology has such a nasty, litigious reputation, and one that hardly seems to fit the nature of a “church.”
“Tony, I couldn’t agree with you more,” Rinder said when I shared those thoughts with him. “Moxon epitomizes in the court system what the Squirrel Busters epitomize on the streets. The only people who think what Moxon and the Squirrel Busters do is cool is themselves. Everyone else looks at them and says, what a bunch of morons.”
I have an anecdote that may shed some further light on what it’s like to work with Moxon.
In 1999, I wrote a story about Scientology’s use of “fair game” on the attorney Graham Berry, about how Moxon in particular had convinced a man named Robert Cipriano to testify to disgusting things about Berry by procuring Cipriano a home, a car, and a job — and I had the documents in Moxon’s name to prove it.
Moxon had come personally to our newspaper offices to try and argue our editor and our attorney out of printing the story. But as my attorney pointed out, you really can’t argue with documents. The story ran, and Moxon went away. Or so I thought.
Some time later, I heard from Gerry Armstrong. If you don’t know Gerry’s story, you should really take the time to look it up. At one point he was so trusted personally by L. Ron Hubbard, he had been assigned the job of compiling information for what would be an official biography of the church founder. Later, he ran afoul of the church, which hounded him and hunted him down. By the time I talked to him, Gerry was living in Canada and had been through the wringer.
But Gerry was as enthusiastic as ever, and he wanted me to see a whole box full of documents that he had lying around. And you know when Gerry said he had documents, they were probably pure gold. I told him that of course I wanted to see them. Could he copy a set and mail it to me? I told him I’d be happy to pay his costs.
Offering to pay his copying costs was just standard journalistic good manners. After Gerry told me how much he’d spent to copy the hundreds of pages and then mail them, I had the newspaper send him a check for what he’d spent — I think it was around $80.
A few days later, I got a call from Kendrick Moxon.
I couldn’t imagine why he’d be calling. And what he did say completely stunned me.
“Paying your sources for stories now, Ortega?”
The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I think I fumbled through a bluff — “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Moxon,” or some such. “Of course we don’t pay for stories,” I told him before I managed to get off the phone.
To this day, I don’t know whether Moxon had a mole in my office, or someone checking Gerry’s mail, or how he figured out that I’d sent Gerry a check — which, again, I will point out was completely proper. But the intent was clear — to creep me out, to make me feel uncomfortable with something that was actually wholly legitimate, and to make me paranoid. And Kendrick Moxon is very, very good at that.
I would be surprised if our readers didn’t have Moxon anecdotes of their own. Please share!
Honorary Mention: I know that some of our readers will howl if I don’t also mention Moxon’s current law partner, Helena Kobrin, along with him in this countdown.
Kobrin certainly etched her name in Scientology-watching history with her notorious 1995 attempt to have the legendary Usenet newsgroup “alt.religion.scientology” shut down. That only made ARS an overnight sensation and helped attract free speech activists to become critics of Scientology, a movement that continues to this day.
But Rinder suggests that Kobrin really doesn’t deserve to be seen in the same light as Moxon. “She was told to do that by Warren McShane. Absolutely no question,” Rinder says. McShane was president of the Religious Technology Center, a church entity that controls Scientology’s trademarks, and for which Moxon and Kobrin work.
“She was put into a position that made her into an ogre. She didn’t enjoy that,” Rinder added. “She has a different personality than Rick Moxon. She did some things she probably shouldn’t have done, but she did them because she was told to do it.”
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
#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.
SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE
[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing “disconnection”]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS
[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun’s open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun’s cause] | [Squirrel Buster’s claim to be making a “documentary”] | [VIDEO: “On a Boat”] | [“Anna” sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology’s highest levels]
SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND “FAIR GAME”
[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology’s West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology’s enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard’s remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to “handle” the Voice]
SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES
[“Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle”] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | [“Tom Cruise not a kook!”] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his “suppressive person” declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology’s retaliation is “scary and pathetic”]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo’s “Turnaround King”: [Doing Scientology’s dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone’s smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]
JANET REITMAN’S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY
[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman’s first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn’t like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman’s print reviews, and why isn’t she on television more?]
HUGH URBAN’S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT
[Marc Headley: “Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle”] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman’s Story] | [Jeff Hawkins’ Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]
[Scientology singalong, “We Stand Tall”] | [Captain Bill Robertson and “Galactic Patrol”]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The “Ideal” dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York “org”]
THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE
[A scientologist’s letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 15, 2011