Father Fights for Children from Scientologist Ex-Wife
[July 17, 1998]
Tom Padgett has been fighting for access to and custody of his two children for years. Now, despite tireless efforts in his children's best interests, he may be jailed on dubious charges of failing to pay child support.
Tom's children are being raised under strict Scientology doctrine and policy. Toms' ex-wife Laura stayed in Scientology when he left, and ever since, Tom's life has been turned up-side-down.
In addition to being separated from his kids, Tom alleges he has been a target of severe Scientology harassment, which has led -- among other things -- to the end of a successful and lucrative career in hotel management. A couple months ago, Tom was arrested on charges of failing to pay child support. According to Tom, he pays child support regularly, but the checks are returned to him without explanation or delayed in being cashed, possibly to cause default. Tom was released on bail, but the litigation that began as a divorce continues in the small, tightly-knit Kentucky town in which his wife lives.
Perhaps Scientology's policies regarding those who go against it provide some insight into what Tom is up against. Scientology's policy of "disconnection" forbids Scientology members to have contact with those it perceives as enemies, most often the caring fathers, mothers, or other loved ones trying to be of help. It is likely that Tom's ex-wife has been encouraged to disconnect herself and the children from Tom. According to another Scientology policy, those who criticize Scientology "may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed." And yet another Scientology policy states that "The purpose of a lawsuit is to harass and discourage rather than to win" and "The law is used to harass, ruin, and cause possible decease."
Tom will appear in court in Kentucky on Monday, July 20th. He is worried that he may not be allowed to return to his Massachusettes home, that he may be imprisoned on the allegations. He has appealed to US Senator Wendall H. Ford. His family has written about his plight to the Boston Globe, in response to an article the newspaper published on the harassment FACTNet director Robert Minton has endured for his opposition to Scientology's abuses. Tom has even undergone psychological exams to prove his mental balance. The exams state, "Mr. Padgett has done amazingly well in coping with the mountain of stress to which he has been subjected. Mr. Padgett is a loving father who has been very involved in his children's lives and is suffering greatly from the disconnection from them. He has shown the involvement, commitment, and caring necessary to be a competent and caring parent if he was to gain custody."
FACTNet wrote about Tom's plight in its May 1998 newsletter, "A Father's Fight" available on the FACTNet web site. Tom was also FACTNet's Person of the Week [July 7, 1998]. Expert Paul Grosswald says the Padgett case could potentially be the first custody case on record in which sole custody is awarded to a Scientologist parent, making it the first time that Scientology's "disconnection" policy has even been sanctioned by the courts. Meanwhile, Tom's children continue to see more of Scientology than of their father.
You can help Tom by helping publicize his plight; encourage local and/or national media to focus attention on his case. He appears in court Monday, July 20 1998. Media might be especially interested in such a case right now, after FACTNet director gained notoriety on Dateline and in numerous newspapers for Scientology's harassment of him. Monetary contributions would also be useful and very appreciated (Send to Tom Padgett Defense Fund, Citizens Against Scientology Harassment, PO Box 884, Harwish, MA 02645).
For information on Cults' Impact on Children, Youth and Families, see CIF.