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Scientology showdown reveals claims of torture, abuse of dissenting members

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas


By last Friday morning, the church had enough. It pulled its request for a temporary injunction, and Cook's damning testimony ended. Rathbun, Cook's husband, and one other former Scientology official, all of whom had been scheduled to testify, would no longer take the stand. “Going forward in the case this way will prevent the defendant from using this court as a pulpit for false statements,” Spencer, the church's attorney, said.

The church claims it has ample evidence to prove Cook and her husband entered willingly into their non-disclosure contracts and then broke them, saying both defendants accepted and deposited $50,000 checks from the church when they left. Spencer says the church has more than enough ammo to seek a summary judgment, forgoing what could likely be a trial with equally messy testimony. With so much in dispute between the two parties, Jeffrey insists there's virtually no chance for a summary judgment at this point — as of Tuesday, the church had yet to file for one.

“I'm still shocked they let her get on the stand and testify,” Yvonne Schick of Austin, a former church member, remarked after the hearing. There was a growing consensus among those inside and outside the courtroom that the church's strategy had clearly backfired.

“They literally forced her to disclose their crimes in a public forum,” Rathbun later said. He went on to call Cook's testimony the tip of the iceberg. “It's hard to really explain how significant this is for the church. ...This is sign of a serious meltdown, this is huge.”

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* Originally reported as "bust."

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