Scientology: Dear Judge, Protect Us from Rathbun and Rinder!


Yesterday, we reported that Debbie Cook had gone on the offensive in the lawsuit filed against her by the Church of Scientology.

The church had earlier filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the Bexar County, Texas court to award it an early win in the case; Cook answered back that she wants the church’s motion delayed as she requests documents from Scientology in the discovery process. She also asked to depose someone representing the church this coming Monday, and gave notice that during that deposition she plans to have along with her former high-ranking Scientology executives Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder — both of whom are highly visible and effective critics of church leader David Miscavige.

Last night, we learned about the church’s countermove: its attorneys asked the court to
delay the production of documents until their motion for summary judgment has been adjudicated. And if the motion is not granted, to delay the deposition and limit it in scope.

Oh, and one more thing: “That Rathbun and Rinder be excluded from the deposition.”

We can imagine the church’s concern.

As members of our excellent commenting community pointed out yesterday, it may give Cook a huge advantage to have Rathbun and Rinter as advisers to her attorney Ray Jeffrey during a deposition of church executives. Marty Rathbun was once the second-highest official in the church, answering only to Scientology’s ultimate leader, David Miscavige; Mike Rinder was once the organization’s chief spokesman and ran its intelligence wing. Since 2009, Rathbun has run a blog that in the past we’ve called perhaps the single biggest external threat to the continuing health of Miscavige’s grip on the church.

Will the church be able to keep Rathbun and Rinder out of these proceedings? At this point, we don’t even know which Bexar County district judge is going to consider this flurry of court filings coming from both sides.

A hearing is scheduled for Friday morning, however, and we only wish we were going to be in the courtroom. Thankfully, reporters like John MacCormack of the San Antonio Express-News and Michael Barajas of the San Antonio Current should be all over it.

Here’s the church’s filing, and we await your analysis (click on the documents to enlarge them)…

Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, 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 our regular features, on Thursdays we do a roundup of world press, on Fridays we visit L. Ron Hubbard on the yacht Apollo circa 1969-1971, on Saturdays we celebrate the week’s best comments, and on Sundays we publish Scientology’s wacky and tacky advertising mailers that people send us.

As for hot subjects we’ve covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and is now being 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.