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May, 2002 - Lawrence Wollersheim - Larry Wollersheim - Lawrence Dominick Wollersheim - Lawrence D Wollersheim
FACTNet News Opinion/Editorial 05/09/02
Scientology cult pays $8,674,643 to ex-member to end 22-year legal battle.
May 9, 2002 9:00 AM.
(At the end of editorial below are updates, media contacts and links to current media covering the breaking story.)
It was a crushing and humiliating legal defeat for the cult that is infamous around the world for its outrageous litigation tactics. Over the past 22 years Scientology spent an estimated 140 million in and out of the court in its efforts to crush a former member, Lawrence Wollersheim, and his legal teams.
The Wollersheim v. Church of Scientology of California (CSC) litigation wound its way though the LA Superior Court, the California Appellate and Supreme courts as well as the US Supreme court almost a half a dozen times. In the first landmark Wollersheim decision, Scientology’s counseling practices were found to be dangerous in the first jury decision of the LA Superior Court. These dangerous counseling practices were also found to be the cause of Lawrence Wollersheim being driven to the brink of insanity.
Thereafter, Scientology filed numerous malicious and tangential legal actions designed to inhibit Wollersheim right of due legal process and to exhaust his financial resources so that he could not carry on his case. The California court saw this new abuse and fined Scientology separately $500,000 in what is known as a SLAPP lawsuit (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.) This SLAPP fine was the highest fine ever paid for such a suit in California.
In another ill-conceived effort to avoid paying the judgment Scientology stripped an estimated 500 million dollars from the Church of Scientology of California and transferred its assets to other corporations in the Scientology corporate umbrella. To collect this judgment from the new Scientology corporations that had received the money, Wollersheim and his legal team filed a new collection lawsuit naming the Church of Scientology International (CSI) and religious Technology Corporation (RTC) as responsible for paying the Wollersheim judgment because of their receipt of the CSC assets.
On 9th May 2002, just before minutes before CSI and RTC were to appear in court Scientology hurriedly delivered an $8,674,643 cashiers check to the LA superior court clerk. This stopped having any additional evidence presented in court that could have exposed Scientology’s lack of corporate integrity, and could have exposed Scientology’s controversial IRS charitable tax exemption to review and potential repeal as well as stopped the very real risk that Scientology’s top executives could soon being put in jail for corporate and asset fraud.
During the original 5-month jury trial in the LA Superior court in 1986 Scientology had almost 25,000 members picketing the courthouse carrying signs saying "Not one thin dime for Wollersheim" and "We will NEVER pay." David Miscavige, the cult’s current leader and former executive in CSI and RTC at the time of the (CSC) transfers, as well as other top Scientology cult leaders repeatedly vowed to members that nothing could ever force them to pay the Wollersheim judgment and they would fight the judgment forever no matter how much it costs or what the sacrifice.
After today’s last minute payment it would appear that what David Miscavige and Scientology’s other senior executives were actually saying was that they would only stonewall on the payment up to that point at which they were in danger of exposing themselves personally for potential felonies. And that they wanted, at all costs, to avoid Scientology’s controversial IRS tax-exempt status grant being exposed in a court of law to evidence that could cause its repeal.
Scientology leaders are now faced with having to concoct a story for their current members explaining the painfully obvious incongruity of their actions. They also have to now contend with the floodgates being thrown wide open for thousands of new lawsuits being filed by emboldened former members who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to Scientology and/or were also harmed by Scientology’s outrageous counseling tactics.
In an exclusive for interview for FACTNet Lawrence Wollersheim said the following about this long overdue and hard won victory:
"It is my opinion that there are hundreds of thousands of people all over the US, Europe and South America who have been destroyed by this cult and then intimidated into silence. But, I now do not think that these people will remain silent any longer.
I believe that they see this abusive cult has been beaten by the power of the law and patience. I hope that they will begin immediately calling their lawyers to use the full power of the law get their lives back and seek restitution as well. I also believe that after this court victory, former members who were intimidated into silence about criminal acts they were coerced to commit while in Scientology will come forward and speak with the proper government officials.
It took me 22 years of using the slow but steady power of law to enforce justice upon this dangerous cult. There were times when I thought I could not go on any longer. But then I would remember the many people who have lost their lives in Scientology such as Lisa McPherson (a current Scientology wrongful death case in Florida.). These people would have no voice if someone did not win a Scientology case.
I remembered Medger Evers wife who fought for 32 years and finally got the killers of her husband (the civil right worker) to trial. I thought of the families for the four African American teens in Atlanta who, after 39 years of persistence using the force of the law, finally got the fourth Ku Klux Klan member suspected in their deaths to trial.
When I saw the courage, persistence and dedication these individuals displayed in using the law to effect justice I told myself to stop being such a wimp and that I was only at the 12, 18, 20, and 22 year mark. These numbers were nothing compared to the 32 years that Medger’s wife fought. What also sustained me in fighting for justice, no matter the level of threat or intimidation, was my faith in a higher, infinite and benevolent power.
The most important thing I have learned in this ordeal is that true justice is not the law. Nor is it the judges or courts. True justice is that sense of fairness that we all have in our hearts. It is that which gives us the power to ensure justice for others and the strength to demand justice for ourselves against all odds.
The most important thing I could say to others or to social advocacy groups that are facing or considering cult - litigation, or bringing lawsuits against wealthy corporations like cigarette companies or fighting the governments that are polluting our environment or committing financial or other criminal acts is that they should use the legal system and be patient. Do not be intimidated into silence. Do not let the wealth or the size of your opponent dissuade you. At the end of the day, the power of justice sought through law and patience dwarfs any opposing force or party.
The rewards for enforcing justice are many. If you are a victim, justice is the miracle healer that accelerates the process far beyond just therapy. When a victim turns the tables on its former oppressor using the legal system they no longer remain a victim. The process transforms them psychologically and empowers them emotionally. There are also new laws like the SLAPP laws that protect the weaker or poorer parties from wealthy adversaries that are trying to punish them for speaking out or working for a better world. This is the good news.
Lastly, I want thank all of the lawyers (Charles O'Reilly, Leta Schlosser, Ford Greene, Craig J. Stein, Dan Leipold, Mark Goldowitz and the legal teams at Cummins and White as well as several firms who assisted at various stages of the 22 years of litigation) and former members and all the family friends and other people who, as a team, forced this ruthless cult to comply with the law. It could not have been done other than as a team.
I promise that everything that Scientology sought to hide from public scrutiny in my case (by stopping the hearings with their $8,760,000 payment to the court) will go to the proper government authorities. Everything in my case that can be made available to other new cases suing Scientology will be made available as soon as possible.
It is quite a paradox that the cult that vowed it would never pay me one thin dime has now paid over 86 million thin dimes not even including the $500,000 they paid earlier."
(Scientology has paid 10 of millions of dollars in past secret settlements but because of gag order and confidentially settlement terms none of the current or former members ever hear about this.)
The FACTNet Staff & Lawrence Wollersheim
Available for Media Interviews are:
Arnie Lerma (Ex FACTNet Director. Ex Scientologist.)
Telephone: 1 703 241 1498
Ford Greene (Attorney)
711 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
San Anselmo, California 94960-1949
Telephone: (415) 258-0360
Fax: (415) 456-5318
Craig J. Stein of Gelfand & Stein, LLP (Attorney)
11755 Wilshire Boulevard, Ste. 1230
Los Angeles, CA 90025-1518
Telephone: (310) 479-0044
Dan Leipold of Leipold, Donohue & Shipe, LLP(Attorney)
960-A West Seventeenth Street
Santa Ana, CA 92706
Telephone: (714) 796-1555
Fax: (714) 796-1550
Charles O'Reilly of O'Reilly & Hobart (Attorney)
4676 Admiralty Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Telephone: (310) 306-0063
(Lead Attorney who won the original case, former California Lawyer of the Year and the individual who may have endured near the most harassment by Scientology in the prosecution of this case. Interviews with him if you can get them will shed light on all aspects of the case that no other of the above attorneys can provide.)
Mark Goldowitz of the California Anti-SLAPP Project (Attorney)
1611 Telegraph Ave., Suite 1200
Oakland, California 94612
Phone: (510) 835-0850 x 305
Fax: (510) 465-1985
(The lead attorney on the SLAPP action that caused Scientology to pay an additional $500,000 in fines for abuse of the legal process.)
Read the actual words of the court in the decisions of this case:
April 24, 1992 BRAINWASHING CULT MUST PAY MILLIONS
For more on the additional $500,000 SLAPP decision paid to Wollersheim during these 22 years because of Scientology’s litigation process abuses see:
February 1, 1996 CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF CALIFORNIA v. LAWRENCE WOLLERSHEIM
For another legal brief short summary of what has happened in the case and the difficulty of enforcing the judgment see
October, 1994 MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES
Read more Judicial statements regarding the Nature of Scientology from US and Foreign Courts see:
Update to the above NewsLetter
Scientology’s predictable and slanderous response to the Wollersheim defeat and payment publicity
After the Wollersheim story hit the media, in an effort to divert media investigation and attention away for the real reasons Scientology paid the 8.6 million dollars into the court, Scientology released a written statement implying Scientology lost the case because of dubious expert testimony and that they are paying the Wollersheim because it is difficult to deal with someone with a bi-polar disorder. They also said that they want to put this chapter behind them.
They have been telling news media that Lawrence Wollersheim had this history of bi-polar disorder before entering Scientology.
What they are doing is a highly transparent tactic they teach their intelligence operatives in cult manuals that were seized in the FBI raid on their headquarters (when many of their executives went to jail.)
The tactic is called "dead agenting". The oldest and most tired form of "dead agenting" is saying, or implying, that the target of "dead agenting" is mentally unbalanced.
The Wollersheim trial record, and all expert testimony given at trial, conclusively states that there was no bi-polar disorder in Wollersheim before Scientology used it outrageous counseling tactics on Wollersheim.
The court record further states that the bi-polar disorder, which Wollersheim suffered, was a direct result of the dangerous nature of Scientology’s counseling practices applied to Wollersheim.
If you want to know the real reasons Scientology paid the 8.7 million just minutes before the new trial was to start (and new evidence presented that would have eventually removed their tax exempt status and sent the top Scientology executives to jail for fraudulent conveyance and other corporate misdeeds) see the description of the actual litigation issues of the Wollersheim collection action at the time they paid at http://www.factnet.org/Scientology/court.htm
Dr. Singer also testified how respondent ... not only had been induced into a severe bipolar disorder, but also suffered from panic attacks, psychogenic amnesia, and a post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Singer testified that "auditing," as it was experienced by respondent, was part of a process of coercive "thought reform" that precipitated or was the major cause of respondent's severe mental and emotional disorders. See e.g., R.T. at 2502-03.
In Wollersheim's case, Wollersheim was induced into a bipolar manic depressive disorder reaching the level of psychosis, panic attacks, psychogenic amnesia, and a post-traumatic stress disorder. 19 (See e.g. R.T. 25B2-B3). Wollersheim eventually was driven to the brink of suicide. (See Pet. App. A-4).
Nightmare on the Net
Wollersheim Decision: Cult's conduct "manifestly outrageous"
Lawrence Wollersheim Vs. Scientology® Crime Syndicate
The Church of Scientology vs. FACTnet
May 4, 2001Lawrence Wollersheim v. Church of Scientology of California - Order on Submitted Motions
March 30, 1999 CNET - Scientologists settle legal battle
February 5, 1999 Metropolitan News-Enterprise - Addition of Alter Ego as Judgment Debtor Subject to Preponderance
March 19, 1999 BRIDGE PUBLICATIONS V. F.A.C.T.NET, INC., a Colorado nonprofit corporation; LAWRENCE WOLLERSHEIM, an individual; and ROBERT PENNY, an individual FINAL JUDGMENT AND PERMANENT INJUNCTION
November 9, 1998 CNET - Scientology loses copyright round
February 25, 1998 Scientology desperation shows again
October 29, 1997 LAWRENCE DOMINICK WOLLERSHEIM vs. CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
September 23, 1997 Resistance is its OWN reward - Lawrence Wollersheim
August 14, 1997 Hush-Hush Money: An anti-Scientology activist claims that the church made him an offer he had to refuse: $12 million.
April 15, 1997 letters/FACTNews Scientology Emergency Briefing
DECLARATION OF LAWRENCE D. WOLLERSHEIM February 1997
November 21, 1996 RELIGIOUS TECHNOLOGY CENTER v. F.A.C.T.Net, INC., a Colorado corporation; Lawrence Wollersheim, an individual; and Robert Penny, an individual
May 22, 1996 CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF CALIFORNIA v. Lawrence WOLLERSHEIM
February 1, 1996 CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF CALIFORNIA v. LAWRENCE WOLLERSHEIM
December 13, 1995 Rocky Mountain News - SCIENTOLOGY CRITICS GET PAPERS BACK
December 11, 1995 RELIGIOUS TECHNOLOGY CENTER v. F.A.C.T.N.E.T., INC., a Colorado corporation; Lawrence Wollersheim, an individual; and Robert Penny, an individual
December 11, 1995 alt.scientology.war
October 4, 1995 Westword - SHOWDOWN IN CYBERSPACE
October 3, 1995 The Associated Press - Judge Appoints Computer Expert in Scientology Case
October 3, 1995 North American News Report - Court to take custody of Scientology Church files
October 3, 1995 RELIGIOUS TECHNOLOGY CENTER v. F.A.C.T.NET, INC., a Colorado corporation; Lawrence Wollersheim, an individual; and Robert Penny, an individual
September 27, 1995 Rocky Mountain News - Scientology church, duo battle again
September 26, 1995 The Rocky Mountain News - SCIENTOLOGISTS DELETED DATA BEFORE RETURNING COMPUTERS
SECOND DECLARATION OF LAWRENCE WOLLERSHEIM November 1995
September 19, 1995 Colorado Daily (University of Colorado student newspaper) U.S. court rules in favor of Scientology's critics
September 19,1995 Rocky Mountain News - SCIENTOLOGISTS LOSE APPEAL OF COMPUTER CASE
September 16, 1995 Richmond Times-Dispatch - Judge says search went too far
September 14, 1995 New York Times - Scientologists lose battle over seized computers
September 14, 1995 The Associated Press - Judge Rules Scientology Critics Can Keep Materials But Can't Disseminate
September 15, 1995 RELIGIOUS TECHNOLOGY CENTER v. F.A.C.T.NET, INC., a Colorado corporation; Lawrence Wollersheim, an individual; and Robert Penny, an individual
September 13, 1995 Denver Post - SCIENTOLOGISTS LOSE IN COURT
September 13, 1995 Rocky Mountain News - JUDGE ORDERS SCIENTOLOGY TO RETURN PROPERTY
September 12, 1995 Rocky Mountain News - Data on Scientology termed in peril
September 12, 1995 RELIGIOUS TECHNOLOGY CENTER vs. F.A.C.T.NET, INC. REPORTER'S TRANSCRIPT RULING
September 9, 1995 Rocky Mountain News - SCIENTOLOGY'S SECRET BELIEFS NO LONGER SECRET, EXPERT SAYS
September 4, 1995 Internet Battle Goes To Court
August 30, 1995 Rocky Mountain News - Scientologist to start returning some seized data
August 27, 1995 Rocky Mountain News - Church of Scientology plays hardball with Boulder critic
August 26, 1995 CNN - Church of Scientology protects secrets on the Internet
August 26, 1995 Rocky Mountain News - SCIENTOLOGY CRITIC WINS ROUND IN BATTLE OVER COMPUTER FILES
August 25, 1995 Rocky Mountain News - EXPERTS SCOUR SEIZED DATA
August 24, 1995 Rocky Mountain News - JUDGES REFUSED HEARING ON BOULDER RAID
August 22, 1995 The Longmont (Colorado) Daily Times-Call - Marshals raid homes in county
August 23, 1995 Rocky Mountain News - Dispute with church brings raids.
August 23, 1995 Boulder (Colorado) Daily Camera, Wednesday Marshals raid homes of former Scientologists
August 23, 1995 Denver Post Wednesday Lawrence Wollersheim stood in his Boulder apartment yesterday afternoon and expressed disgust - just after U.S. marshals seized his computer and documents and turned them over to the Church of Scientology.
August 21, 1995 RELIGIOUS TECHNOLOGY CENTER v. F.A.C.T.NET, INC., a Colorado corporation: LAWRENCE WOLLERSHEIM and ROBERT PENNY. MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
August 15, 1995 FACTNET'S statement on SCIENTOLOGY'S RAID ON FACTNET DIRECTOR ARNIE LERMA
August 10-16, 1995 Boulder (Colorado) Weekly - Going clear: Lawrence Wollersheim spent 11 years inside Scientology; now he want to expose it
August 25, 1995 Associated Press - Judge Orders Access To Data
May 20, 1995 THE NEW ACTIVISM OF ALT.RELIGION.SCIENTOLOGY
March 26, 1995 EMERGENCY MESSAGE TO INTERNET USERS INTERESTED IN PROTECTING FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET
March 8, 1995 UPDATE OF "WHERE IN THE WORLD IS DAVID MISCAVIGE"
October, 1994 MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES
DECLARATION OF LAWRENCE WOLLERSHEIM OF AUGUST 6, 1993
July 2, 1993 CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF CALIFORNIA vs. LARRY WOLLERSHEIM
APRIL 24, 1992 BRAINWASHING CULT MUST PAY MILLIONS
March 20, 1992 Larry WOLLERSHEIM v. CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF CALIFORNIA
October 8, 1991 RELIGIOUS TECHNOLOGY CENTER; Church of Scientology International, v. Larry WOLLERSHEIM; Leta Schlosser; Richard Ofshe; Margaret Singer, et al
1991 Lawrence Wollersheim COERCIVE PERSUASION A NEW COERCIVE PSYCHO-TECHNOLOGY
July 18, 1989 Larry WOLLERSHEIM v. CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF CALIFORNIA
March 9, 1987 RELIGIOUS TECHNOLOGY CENTER v. Larry WOLLERSHEIM, et al.
September 26, 1986 LARRY WOLLERSHEIM VS. CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
March 5, 1986 RELIGIOUS TECHNOLOGY CENTER v. Larry WOLLERSHEIM, et al.
a.r.s. ( alt.religion.scientology ) NewsGroup discusion threads about this judgement are at:
Subject: Lots of Wollersheim news going out all over the place
Date: 2002-05-10 20:37:50 PST
Subject: 86,746,430 thin dimes?
Date: 2002-05-10 03:25:23 PST
Subject: Nomination of Lawrence Wollersheim to SP Level 10 - collected the money without a gag!
Date: 2002-05-09 15:51:08 PST
Subject: Re: Wollersheim rocks the CoSbah!
Date: 2002-05-09 14:05:12 PST
Subject: Scientology cult pays $8,674,643 to ex-member to end 22-year legal battle.
Date: 2002-05-09 09:29:25 PST
Subject: 87 million thin dimes for Wollersheim!
Date: 2002-05-08 20:35:05 PST
Subject: Wally Update>>>>
Date: 2002-05-08 15:59:18 PST
Subject: Wollersheim case survives
Date: 2002-05-06 22:19:31 PST
TV + Radio Transcriptions regarding the Wollersheim case
Denver Channel 7 ABC : 10:06 PM : May 10, 2002
Wollersheim KROQ 106.7 Retraction + Apology regarding Raul Lopez statement
Statistical Impact of Wollersheim Case on the FACTNet Website
Abbreviated Webstats Snapshot
Personal Videos of People Who have left Scientology
David Cook and Vickki Ford
Greg and Debra Barnes
Ed and Tera Hattaway
Peter and Abby Lazarnick
Bill and Barbara Z
Maria Pia Gardini
Newspapers and Websites that covered this story are:
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