2001 - Judgements and Departure from Clearwater
On February 21st, the court issued its judgement in the TRO hearings. Robert Minton and another protester, Tory Bezazian, were found guilty of having violated the injunction. Minton was sentenced to a $ 500 fine and a 6-month probation.
In a side note the judge also criticized the presence of off-duty police officers that were hired by the Church of Scientology as security guards. Using police officers, private investigators and their own security staff, the Church of Scientology had kept the LMT and its staff under constant surveillance [Exh. No. 70].
In March Minton went on a trip to Europe where he attended court hearings in his libel cases against Scientology organizations in France and Germany. While his court case in Paris remained unsolved, Minton reached a verdict against the Scientology Church in Germany on March 27th. Among other things the organization was enjoined to declare that Minton had stolen billions of dollars from the republic of Nigeria [Exh. No. 71].
Two months later Minton's friend and vice-president of the LMT, Jesse Prince had to stand a criminal trial due to a marijuana possession charge. The court declared a mistrial after a hung jury and the prosecution dropped the charges on the following day. During the trial the jury learned that a Scientology-hired private investigator had infiltrated Prince's private life and provided him with marijuana while at the same informing a narcotics officer about an alleged drug abuse by Prince.
The different trials and court hearings put also an additional financial strain on the LMT, which operations were almost entirely financed by Minton. Up to that point the LMT had spent $ 150,000 in legal fees for the defense of its employees on three different misdemeanor charges [Exh. No. 72].
In June Minton and some LMT representatives traveled to Leipzig, Germany to attend the presentation of the human rights award with which he was awarded the previous year. On this occasion the film "The Profit" was presented to members of the audience. "The Profit", a parody on Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard, had been financed by Minton and was planned to be shown in commercial theaters in the United States and Europe.
Upon his return from Europe Minton displayed the first rifts within his entourage when he accused on the Internet the former LMT board member Patricia Greenway and Ursula Caberta of a conspiracy against the LMT [Exh. No. 73].
In August the film "The Profit" was shown at a small movie theater in Clearwater. During an interview with the local press the director of the movie, Peter Alexander stated that the film had cost $ 2 million. He denied that it had anything to do with Scientology or Hubbard. Despite Alexander's affirmations a local Scientologist denounced the movie as a "hate propaganda film" [Exh. No. 74].
Then in November Minton publicly declared that the LMT was closing its doors and would leave Clearwater. Minton's girlfriend, Stacy Brooks stated that the trust would continue to operate but through a more "amorphous type of entity [Exh. No. 17]."
The "Saint Petersburg Times" article from November 3rd which announced the departure of the LMT detailed the legal difficulties that Minton and the LMT had encountered since the organization was established in Clearwater and in particular since Minton was ordered by the court to be deposed in May of 2000:
" [ ... ] The trust can't close its offices yet because a judge has granted a church request for an independent review of trust records as part of a civil wrongful-death lawsuit that McPherson's estate filed against the church.
"Even though Minton is not a party in the suit, both he and the trust have been drawn into the case, in part because Minton helped fund the lawsuit. Minton and trust staff have been deposed by church lawyers for hours.
"Minton and the trust have faced other legal blows. The courts ordered him to turn over all of his personal Florida bank records, now in the hands of Scientology.
"And recently, the church named Minton and the Lisa McPherson Trust as co-defendants with the estate of Lisa McPherson in a lawsuit Scientology has filed against the estate. [ ... ] "
Following the announcement of the departure, Stacy Brooks dissolved the LMT on November 28th [Exh. No. 16].
On December 9th another article on Minton in the Saint Petersburg Times appeared. It discussed the recent developments in the Lisa McPherson civil suit and Robert Minton's involvement in the case [Exh. No. 75]. A judge who at that time was presiding over the case was cited saying:
" [ ... ] ‘It's hard to distinguish the trust, Mr. Minton and the plaintiff in this case,' Judge Beach said during a September deposition. ‘They're so intertwined, as a matter of fact, it almost appears that Lisa McPherson has been overshadowed by the activities of the trust and Mr. Minton in pursuing this case against the Scientologists.' [ ... ] "
On April 2nd Scientology's "Office of Special Affairs" in Germany began to distribute the newest edition of its newsletter "Freiheit." The journal accused city official Ursula Caberta of having been bribed by Robert Minton when she had accepted the private loan from him.
On the first page of the journal a copy of a $ 75,000 check was pictured. Apparently the check was drawn from a personal account of Minton and written out towards Caberta. The article also mentioned that the criminal complaint that the Scientology organization had filed against Caberta in September was still under revision by the District Attorney's office [Exh. No. 76].
2002 - Turnaround
On April 20th the Tampa Tribune reported about a dramatic change in the so-called "breach of contract" case that the Church of Scientology had filed against the estate of Lisa McPherson and its attorney Kennan Dandar in April 2000.
The article described a recent court hearing where Minton had testified on behalf of the Scientologists and where he had accused Dandar of having him advised to lie under oath and to write false affidavits [Exh. No. 5]. Minton was cited stating that because he had been afraid to go to jail for having committed perjury he had recanted his prior testimony. Additionally he had accused Dandar of being "a lying thief."
The turnaround of Minton did set off a series of lengthy court hearings in the "breach of contract" case and in the McPherson civil case. The Church of Scientology immediately moved forward by using Minton's testimony to have Kennan Dandar dismissed from the McPherson case and ultimately to have the case as such dismissed altogether [Exh. No. 77].
Various witnesses were then called to testify in court about the manner the estate had conducted the suit and how Minton had influenced the litigation process. Minton himself and his girlfriend Stacy Brooks had to endure a lengthy examination by the court and the attorneys during the month of May.
On May 18th another article on Minton appeared in the Clearwater press. It listed the various financial contributions Minton had made over the past seven years to critics of Scientology in order "to nail the church" and which added up to the final amount of $ 10 million [Exh. No. 78]:
" [ ... ] He dumped more than $ 2-million into a now defunct anti-Scientology organization in downtown Clearwater called the Lisa McPherson Trust, named for a Scientologist who died in 1995 under the care of fellow Scientologists. Minton testified that he put up nearly $ 2.5-million for the movie The Profit, made in the Tampa Bay area by two Scientology critics.
"His cash went into the bank accounts of Scientology critics and their lawyers around the country. Minton said he gave $ 700,000 to Lawrence Wollersheim, a former Scientologist who recently collected an $ 8.6-million settlement from Scientology, ending one of the longest-running lawsuits in California history. And he funded lawsuits against Scientology in places as distant as Germany and France.
"But the focus of his anti-Scientology efforts was the Pinellas County wrongful death lawsuit that blames the church for Lisa McPherson's death. Minton gave $ 2-million to fund the litigation. [ ... ] "
The article also cited Kennan Dandar's suspicion that Minton was being blackmailed by the Scientology organization and that he was being forced by the Scientologists to turn against Dandar.
The court hearings continued through June. On June 13th a newspaper report by the "Saint Petersburg Times" indicated that Minton's legal problems had indeed increased after he had come to court to evade even more troubles and to "set the record straight."
The article cited judge Susan Schaeffer stating that she would turn over a report to the State Attorney's office as soon as the hearings would be completed. Commenting on Minton she said that he was apparently not only in trouble in the current court case but also with the State Attorney's Office and with the Internal Revenue Service [Exh. No. 79].
Meanwhile in Hamburg Ursula Caberta had to face the legal consequences of her acceptance of Minton's loan during June of the year 2000. On June 27th the "Hamburger Abendblatt" reported that a district court of the city of Hamburg had issued a fine of € 7,500 against her, as it deemed the Minton loan as improper due to Caberta's position in a public office [Exh. No. 80].
At the time of the writing of this affidavit the court hearings in Clearwater have not been concluded. Nevertheless the turnaround of Minton has left the critics of Scientology deeply polarized. While for some Minton has become a "traitor" and "collaborator" of Scientology's "Office of Special Affairs", for others he is a "victim" who eventually has given in after being under attack by the Scientologists for almost five years.
Minton and the Church of Scientology had repeatedly accused each other as human rights violators and criminals, while never questioning but stoically defending their own positions. Both sides claimed to be morally right with their actions, while relentlessly pursuing their individual agendas to harm the other side. The evidence presented in this document will show that in fact both sides did repeatedly overstep the mark that separates legal from illegal and criminal activity.