UPDATE (July 9): The New York Post is reporting that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have signed a private divorce settlement, and put out a statement emphasizing the mutual respect they have for their “respective beliefs.” This only convinces us that the predictions in this story are likely to be true.
Just talked to Marty Rathbun and asked him about the statement put out by Holmes and Cruise: “It’s carefully crafted. It’s vague,” he says. “They think they’re going to get away with that statement, but I don’t think it’s good enough. There’s too much interest in it from the press.”
I asked him if he thought, now that the divorce is over, the press will stop caring about what’s happening in Scientology. “I don’t know if the press is going to stay interested or not, but I think we’re past the tipping point now. Nobody’s walking into a Scientology center to join up now,” he says, and we discussed all of the crises facing the church. More later. For now, here’s the rest of our story from yesterday predicting the outcome of the divorce.
This afternoon, Tom Cruise’s former auditor, Marty Rathbun, laid out his predictions for how the Cruise-Holmes divorce is going to go, based on his extensive history helping to run the church.
Rathbun predicts that Tom Cruise will give up sole custody of Suri as long as Katie Holmes goes along with a public statement that they are sharing custody, and also agrees to say publicly that Scientology was never a factor in their split.
The church will then go on a blame-and-shame campaign against the media, using Katie’s statement in order to portray itself as mischaracterized and harmed by religious bigotry in the press.
I tend to agree with Rathbun that this is exactly how things will turn out. And there’s a lesson from history to back it up: L. Ron Hubbard’s own divorce from his second wife.
Rathbun was once the second-highest ranking official in Scientology, and for more than 20 years had worked closely with church leader David Miscavige before he left the church in 2004. From 2001 to 2004, he served as Tom Cruise’s personal auditor. Rathbun also directed many of the church’s legal crusades and retaliation campaigns, and is intimately acquainted with Miscavige’s past behavior.
Rathbun bases his predictions on the three things we’ve heard from the Cruise camp so far:
1. That Tom was caught by surprise by Holmes filing for divorce.
2. A “source” in Tom’s camp said Scientology had nothing to do with the split.
3. Cruise attorney Bert Fields blamed Holmes for going on a media campaign to poison Tom.
As Rathbun points out, that last one is particularly outrageous, since Katie filed for divorce anonymously, and her attorneys have uttered nothing publicly.
But Rathbun says these three early hints tell him all he needs to know to predict how this thing will go down now that Katie and Tom are in negotiations:
a) Katie signs a document that indicates there is to be joint/equal custody of the daughter of Tom and Katie. However, there will be a side agreement (that will sit locked up in their lawyer’s safes) that gives Katies sole custody, control over education, and some visitation rights to Tom.
b) Katie signs a document that indicates that Scientology was never an issue nor consideration in the filing for divorce.
Miscavige and Scientology Inc hacks then make the media and their sources wrong for having allegedly jumped the gun to insinuate Scientology into the matter in order to bludgeon Scientology Inc, Miscavige and Cruise.
Rathbun compares this to a case just recently completed, the settlement of the Debbie Cook lawsuit.
But another historical precedent seemed just as apt to us: Hubbard’s messy divorce to Sara Northrup Hollister.
They met in 1945 at the home of rocket scientist Jack Parsons as Navy Lt. Hubbard was being demobilized after the war. Sara was Parsons’ girlfriend, but Hubbard stole her away. (For a fuller telling of the kinky things going on at Parsons’ occult-obsessed house, see our earlier post.)
When Hubbard married Sara in 1946, he was still married to his first wife, Margaret “Polly” Grubb. Sara was unaware of his bigamy, but Hubbard then divorced Polly in 1947 and it was Sara who was with him when he published Dianetics in 1950. That year, the couple gave birth to their only child, Alexis.
Russell Miller’s excellent biography, Bare-faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard tells what happened next in amazing and excellent detail.
I’ll keep it short and say that Ron and Sara’s marriage turned extremely ugly, and when she filed for divorce, she really let him have it. Here’s Wikipedia’s summary, which I’m resorting to for speed’s sake…
Sara filed for divorce on April 23, charging Hubbard with causing her “extreme cruelty, great mental anguish and physical suffering”. Her allegations produced more lurid headlines: not only was Hubbard accused of bigamy and kidnapping, but she had been subjected to “systematic torture, including loss of sleep, beatings, and strangulations and scientific experiments”. Because of his “crazy misconduct” she was in “hourly fear of both the life of herself and of her infant daughter, who she has not seen for two months”. She had consulted doctors who “concluded that said Hubbard was hopelessly insane, and, crazy, and that there was no hope for said Hubbard, or any reason for her to endure further; that competent medical advisers recommended that said Hubbard be committed to a private sanitarium for psychiatric observation and treatment of a mental ailment known as paranoid schizophrenia.”
Hubbard got a lot of bad press over the divorce, and pressed Sara hard to end it and get it out of the newspapers.
He agreed to give her custody over their daughter, and in return asked her to put this statement into the record (which Miller says was obviously written by Hubbard himself):
I, Sara Northrup Hubbard, do hereby state that the things I have said about L. Ron Hubbard in courts and the public prints have been grossly exaggerated or entirely false.
I have not at any time believed otherwise than that L. Ron Hubbard is a fine and brilliant man.
I make this statement of my own free will for I have begun to realize that what I have done may have injured the science of Dianetics, which in my studied opinion may be the only hope of sanity in future generations.
I was under enormous stress and my advisers insisted it was necessary for me to carry through an action as I have done.
There is no other reason for this statement than my own wish to make atonement for the damage I may have done. In the future I wish to lead a quiet and orderly existence with my little girl far away from the enturbulating influences which have ruined my marriage.
Sara Northrup Hubbard.
I have to agree with Rathbun, and say that we may have to expect a similar statement coming from Katie Holmes at some point, and then watch as the church tries to shame the media into writing positive stories about Cruise and Scientology.
And here’s why I think that may not work: Scientology is gripped by crises that are larger than Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. As we’ve been reporting here at the Voice for several years, Scientology is splitting apart and losing important, longtime members.
Just in the last week, we reported for the first time that…
— David Miscavige’s own father, Ron Miscavige Sr., escaped from Scientology’s international base east of Los Angeles, as did Roanne Horwich, who is a granddaughter of L. Ron Hubbard and had lived nearly her entire life at the base.
— Alexander Jentzsch, son of Heber Jentzsch, the president of the Church of Scientology International who has been held at Scientology’s Int Base in its infamous office-prison “The Hole,” was found dead Tuesday morning, and the church won’t let his own mother see the body and won’t hold a memorial service for fear that Heber would need to attend.
— An entire mission in Haifa, Israel, has now joined the exodus of longtime Scientologists abandoning the official church.
And there’s more challenging the leadership of David Miscavige, including increasing media pressure on him to produce his wife, Shelly, who hasn’t been seen publicly in about five years.
All that is not going away, even if Tom Cruise can get out of Katie Holmes a pretty statement about his church. And we’ll be watching.
YOU ARE INVITED TO THE MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR ALEX JENTZSCH
Just got this e-mail from Karen de la Carriere, who wanted me to share it with all of our readers…
ALEXANDER JENTZSCH 1984-2012
BURIAL AT SEA FROM A YACHT
Friday 13 July 2pm to 5pm
I will do the funeral the Church will not do. San Pedro/Long Beach
We will throw rose petals and wreaths symbolically into the Pacific Ocean as I do not have the ashes.
I will provide high level catering from a Five Star Chef and we can even do a champagne toast to Alexander.
Please Email me if you wish to attend.
Karen de la Carriere
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
No memorial service for Scientology president’s son? “Despicable.”
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 email@example.com, 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.