At 29 years of age, the Church of Scientology has its first martyrs.
Mary Sue Hubbard ... Henning Heldt ... Duke Snider ... Gregory Willardson ... Richard Weigand ... Cindy Raymond ... Mitchell Hermann ... Gerald Bennett Wolfe ... Sharon Thomas.
The church considers them modern martyrs, political prisoners of a vengeful government. The government of the United States considers them criminals.
The nine Scientologists have been sentenced to jail.
In the government's sentencing memorandum to U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey, the prosecution summed up the government's views:
"The United States initiated the investigation which resulted in the instant indictment in view of the brazen, systematic and persistent burglaries of the United States Government offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, Calif. over an extended period of at least some two years. Additionally, the United States was confronted with the pervasive conduct of the defendants in this case in thwarting a federal grand jury investigation by harboring a fugitive, in effect forcefully kidnapping a witness who had decided to surrender to the federal authorities, submitting false evidence to the grand jury, destroying other evidence which might have been of valuable aid to its investigation, preparing a coverup story, and encouraging and drilling a crucial witness to give false testimony under oath to that grand jury.
"Such outrageous conduct, it was felt, struck at the very heart of our judicial system -- a system which has often been, at crucial times in our history, the saviour of our institutions. We consider that in view of the widespread and long drawn out nature of these offenses, as well as their heinousness, we would have been derelict in our duty to enforce the laws if we had failed to bring the charges in the instant indictment.
"Moreover a review of the documents seized in the two Los Angeles, Calif. searches, which have been unsealed by this court, show the incredible and sweeping nature of the criminal conduct of the defendants and of the organization which they led. These crimes include the infiltration and theft of documents from a number of prominent private national and world organizations, law firms and newspapers; the execution of smear campaigns and baseless law suits to destroy private individuals who had attempted to exercise their First Amendment rights to freedom of expression; the framing of private citizens who had been critical of Scientology, including the forging of documents which led to the indictment of at least one innocent person; violation of civil rights of prominent private figures and public officials ...
"It is the position of the United States that each and every one of the defendants herein fulfilled his duties as expected by the Church of Scientology, that all of their criminal activities, as well as those of all unindicted co-conspirators, were carried out in furtherance of the very goals of their church. The very policies of the church, as reflected by its Guardian Orders, called for the execution of massive criminal conspiracies and rewarded the participants for their success in carrying out these criminal policies."
Scientology is in trouble.
Judge Richey, obviously agreeing with the prosecutors, imposed heavy sentences: From six months in jail, five years probation, and a $1,000 fine for Sharon Thomas, up to a maximum five years in jail and a $10,000 fine for Raymond and Wolfe.
He also imposed the maximum sentence on Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of church founder L. Ron Hubbard and the second most powerful figure in Scientology. But he agreed to reconsider the sentence after she has spent three months in prison.
Judge Richey said initially that the nine must go to jail immediately. But after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted the release of three of the defendants pending the outcome of their appeals, Judge Richey relented. He released them all pending appeal, provided they had paid their fines. The appeals, based on a claim that the FBI raids on church offices were illegal, will take time and could end up before the Supreme Court. But activity at the trial court level isn't necessarily over.
There could be more to come. Two persons named in the 28-count indictment, Jane Kember and Morris "Mo" Budlong, are in England. The British courts have ordered them returned to the United States to face trial, but they have appealed to the House of Lords.
Founder L. Ron Hubbard was not indicted by the grand jury which charged his wife and the other 10 Scientologists, but he was named a co- conspirator. The grand jury listed 22 other unindicted co-conspirators.
The Guardian Office has been decimated. Mary Sue Hubbard held the highest position as commodore staff guardian. Kember, Budlong, Heldt, Snider, Willardson, Weigand and Raymond were senior Guardians, and Hermann a senior official until he was fired in the summer of '77. Wolfe and Thomas were two of the Guardian Office's most effective FSM's -- covert agents who infiltrated government agencies.
As a result of the documents released in connection with the Washington trial, federal grand juries in Tampa and New York are investigating Scientology.
The evidence has also been made available to state law enforcement authorities in several locations, including Pinellas County.
But most injurious to a church that shuns publicity -- a church that prefers to achieve growth through word of mouth rather than the printed word -- has been the story woven in the public press of the espionage system operated by the Guardians and its misdeeds.
At the request of Rep. C.W. Bill Young, St. Petersburg Republican, the House Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a hearing -- a closed hearing -- on the infiltration of government agencies by agents of Scientology. The date has not been set.
In Boston, Lavenda Van Schaick, 29, has filed a $200-million lawsuit against the church, accusing it of cheating thousands of converts by subjecting them to "mind control." She contends that the church misled her into divorcing her husband, paying about $13,000 for auditing, and working for the church without pay for nine years in Las Vegas and Clearwater.
In Oregon, a former Scientologist recently was awarded $2-million in damages against the church. In Riverside, Calif. an indictment has linked church members to an alleged bank fraud scheme.
Scientology is down. But it would be a mistake to count it out.
It remains wealthy and feisty.
Since moving into Clearwater late in 1975, when it purchased the Fort Harrison Hotel, and the old Bank of Clearwater building for approximately $3-million in cash, the church has steadily increased its property holdings in Pinellas County.
It paid $2.5-million for the 100-room Sandcastle Inn, on Clearwater's downtown bayfront. It purchased the West Coast Building and the building occupied by Clearwater Plasma Products, both in downtown Clearwater. It purchased the Quality Inn on U.S. 19 for $1.8-million.
The church has agreed to buy the Heart of Clearwater Motel, which it has been operating through a lease purchased from two couples, for $950,000 by next March 1.
A long legal fight over the church's Pinellas County property tax bill for 1976 and 1977 came to an end Dec. 14 when the church paid $126,753 in back taxes. But Scientology President Kenneth Whitman said the church will continue its court fight for exemption from its 1978 and 1979 tax bills. They total $151,157.
The church remains vocal. It has accused Clearwater City Commissioner Richard Tenney of violating its civil rights by his criticism of the actions of the Guardian Office and by his organizing of public demonstrations against the church.
On the national scene, Church of Scientology officials called a news conference in Washington Dec. 3 to report that their four-month analysis of CIA records suggests that the federal intelligence agency conducted biological warfare tests in New York City streets and tunnels in 1955 and 1956.
Thirteen days later, they held another news conference to state that, according to their analysis, the CIA might have conducted open-air tests of whooping cough bacteria in the Tampa Bay area in 1955. CIA financial records that have been made public over the last 30 months indicate such a test might have taken place, said officials of American Citizens for Honesty in Government, a Scientology organization. In addition, they said, state medical records show an outbreak of whooping cough about that time that killed 12 persons.
Clearly Scientology still carries a chip on its shoulder.
One wonders whether the actions of the Guardians that got them sentenced to jail could ever be repeated.
Just before Mary Sue Hubbard was sentenced, she told Judge Richey, "I publicly want to say I accept full responsibility for the charge of which I have been convicted. I sincerely regret my wrongdoing. I have done everything within my power to see that nothing like this ever occurs in the future."
What has she done? What has the church done to see that "nothing like this ever occurs in the future."
On Dec. 20, President Whitman met for an hour with Eugene Patterson, editor and president of The St. Petersburg Times, and three other Times employees.
"On behalf of the Church of Scientology and its members," Rev. Whitman said, "I want to offer a sincere apology for the conduct of some within the church toward yourself and some of your reporters."
He said that he was holding a series of meetings with political, business, religious and news people in Pinellas County in an effort to calm the confrontation atmosphere that had developed between the church and the community.
He said that founder Hubbard was not involved in day-to-day activities of the church, and that the criminal activities were carried out by a few isolated individuals who violated church policies and misinterpreted Hubbard policies.
He said there was "no justification for what occurred," and that "the burden of proof is on us."
Some days later, following a meeting with the board of directors of the "Mother Church" in Los Angeles, Rev. Whitman told The Times that specific actions have been taken to prohibit illegal or harassive actions by church members.
A new Guardian Order entitled "Scientology and the Law" has been circulated to all Guardian offices and staff members, he said. Whitman said the order draws heavily on a 1961 Hubbard policy statement entitled "Clean Hands Make a Happy Life."
The new order begins: "In the past some individuals have apparently sought to assist the Church of Scientology by committing harassive or illegal acts. Such actions are NOT help and in fact make our work more difficult in that such acts misrepresent basic tenets of the church."
The order states: "If it is felt that the laws of the land are not just, then the proper remedies are to be sought through the appropriate legislative body or through the courts ... Orders calling for harassive or illegal acts are clearly destructive as are representations that such acts would further the aims of the church."
It contains penalties: "Henceforth anyone proposing or carrying out a harassive or illegal act in the name of, or for the purpose of 'assisting' the Church of Scientology will be immediately subject to a committee of evidence which will consider the facts of the case and recommend upon penalties not excluding expulsion."
Whitman said the order makes it the duty of any Scientologist who learns of an illegal action by another church member to make the information available to the nearest church ethics office.
"Scientologists," the order states, "obey the law and violations of the law are expected to be dealt with according to the existing law enforcement and judicial system within our society."
Whitman said the church has also organized a Controller's Committee to oversee activities of the Guardian Office.
Was Mrs. Hubbard involved?
"I believe so," Whitman said. "I don't know the intricacies of the formation of the committee, but it actually was formed under her. I am sure it was her intention that the committee exist."
The committee is headed by Rev. Fred Hare of Los Angeles.
There has been no cancellation of existing church policies or Hubbard policy statements, Whitman said, because none is necessary.
"Whether or not anybody issued any kind of Guardian Order in the past," he said, "this Guardian Order is quite specific and there are no exceptions to this policy. This is the church policy and this is what happens if someone carries out an illegal or harassive activity in the name of the church."
Meanwhile, the nine defendants in the Washington case remain members of the church, Whitman said, although some have been removed from their staff positions.
"All have performed individual acts of contrition," he said.
He declined to describe these acts because they "might appear odd to someone else." He said they involved "a great deal of spiritual self- examination" and making "amends in terms of working and contributing to some positive situation regarding the church."
The church has not paid their legal bills, Whitman said. Instead a defense committee has been formed to raise funds for them.
"I don't think any of these individuals could afford to pay them," Whitman said. "I understand they have, or will, run over a million dollars."
Whitman said he is trying to arrest the notion that the illegal actions of a few church members represent "the policy of the church and of millions of Scientologists."
"It's totally bizarre and completely out of keeping with what we believe," he said, "yet it is being interpreted as what we believe."
Whitman said Scientology seeks a "civilization without criminality" and has worked toward this goal through programs to reduce crime and drug abuse and to re-educate former criminal offenders.
Whitman said he also hopes to achieve "the right of Scientologists to practice their faith in Clearwater."
The new Guardian Order was offered as reassurance to the community that past criminal acts will not occur again. "I think the Guardian Order makes clear what will be done if there are any illegal acts," Whitman said.
He said there was no "direct consultation" with founder Hubbard in drawing up the order. But Hubbard, he said, "does continue to write doctrine and policy letters."
That is the same founder Hubbard, Commodore Hubbard, who counselled his followers in the past that "truth is what is true for you."