Transcribed by Dean Benjamin. Misspellings and irregular punctuation have been corrected. Editorial notes are indicated by [square brackets].
[ The story of Paulette Cooper | Main Scientology page ]
[ Video footage from the Clearwater hearings ]
In January 1976, following surreptitious purchases of real estate, Scientologists surfaced in Clearwater, Florida. They promptly slapped its Mayor, Gabe Cazares, with a million-dollar libel suit for questioning their civic virtues; by March, they had attempted to implicate him in a hit-and-run car accident.
After living for some years with Scientology's brand of citizenship, an alarmed Clearwater City Council convened a week of locally-televised hearings, May 5-10, 1982. Attorney Michael Flynn, who had represented Paulette Cooper and other plaintiffs in legal actions against the Church of Scientology, was hired as counsel.
Paulette Cooper was preceded by a roster of ex-Scientologists who detailed the abuse, misery, and crimes they had witnessed while members of the Church. Robert Dardano, once an agent of the Guardian's Office, testified that he had stolen Cooper's files from her psychiatrist's office in 1974.
MR. FLYNN: Okay. We'll now go forward with Paulette Cooper.
I will have these other documents marked on how to commit burglaries, evaluations of which types of covert operations are successful and unsuccessful, as well as the drills that one goes through, such as Mr. Mayer, Mr. Dardano, Mrs. Peterson, Mr. Walters, and others have described as to how you're trained to do very specific things.
(A copy of Operation Freakout was marked as Exhibit No. 49, as of this date;
Documents on how to commit burglaries, evaluations of covert operations, and drills were marked as Exhibit Nos. 50, 51, and 52, as of this date.)
MR. [Charles] LeCHER [Mayor of Clearwater]: Would you like to call your next witness, now?
MR. [Michael] FLYNN [Outside counsel]: Miss Cooper, please.
MR. LeCHER: Miss Cooper, will you be sworn in, please?
PAULETTE COOPER, a witness herein, having first been duly sworn by a Clerk for the City of Clearwater, was examined and testified as follows:
MR. LeCHER: Miss Cooper, are you appearing here today and testifying under oath voluntarily?
MS. COOPER: Yes.
MR. LeCHER: Have you been paid by anyone for your testimony, other than the expenses for coming to the City of Clearwater?
MS. COOPER: No.
MR. LeCHER: Do you have a lawsuit against the Church of Scientology?
MS. COOPER: Yes.
MR. LeCHER: Does the Church of Scientology have a lawsuit against you?
MS. COOPER: Yes.
MR. LeCHER: How many, eighteen?
MR. FLYNN: And for the record, the Commissioners may remember that one of the earlier exhibits on the purpose of a lawsuit, which was read, to harass and discourage and to destroy the person.
MR. LeCHER: Has anyone suggested to you that you should state anything but the truth or has anyone suggested that you change your testimony for any reason?
MS. COOPER: No.
MR. LeCHER: How do you defend yourself against eighteen lawsuits?
MS. COOPER: I work day and night to support the lawyers.
MR. LeCHER: I don't know how you could simply afford it.
MS. COOPER: I figured out just recently that it's cost over fifty thousand dollars for legal fees on the suits.
MR. FLYNN: For the record, I haven't received any of that.
MR. LeCHER: Start at the beginning, please.
MS. COOPER: Okay.
I'm a freelance writer; I live in Manhattan. I'm the author of several hundred articles, two of which are about Scientology; I'm also the author of six books, one of which is The Scandal of Scientology. I have been studying Scientology since 1968.
The last couple of years, the Scientologists --
MR. LeCHER: I don't think they can hear you, Miss Cooper, in the back of the room.
MS. COOPER: Okay.
The last couple of years, the Scientologists have been telling the people of Clearwater that they've changed and they've advanced a lot in the last couple of years. I certainly haven't noticed it. As I said, the eighteenth lawsuit was just served on me last week.
I am being sued now repeatedly by individual Scientologists, who, in some cases, I don't even know, suits for supposedly distributing literature at functions I didn't even attend.
Part of the purpose in harassing people with lawsuits is to keep deposing them and preventing you from writing or making a living and making you show up at legal depositions. I've been deposed for nineteen days total since this started, with four more coming up in a couple of weeks.
There has also been some other harassment in the past six months or so: continued calls to me, calls to my family. The Scientologists find out what the person's buttons are, as they put it, and the way to get to them. And they know that a way to get me is to harass my parents. So, they have been under a great deal of harassment, as well as my harassment.
They've put out libelous publications about me; they've sent letters saying that I was soon to be imprisoned. And you saw the Operation Freakout and attempts that have been made to put me in prison. They've sent false reports about me to the Justice Department, the District Attorney's Office, the IRS. As you know, government agencies have to investigate any complaints that they get. So, then, Scientology sends out press releases that I am under investigation by the Attorney General's Office, I am under investigation by the DA, and so on.
They have put detectives on me; they have put spies on me. A few months ago, they put an attempted spy on my mother to try to get information about me from her and to fix me up with the woman's son, so they could get direct to me. They cancelled my plane to -- well, somebody cancelled my plane to Florida about a month ago, and that is the third time that happened to me this year while I was traveling.
I'd like to say that this was a very good year compared to the previous years. And I'd like to discuss a little bit what it was like to fight Scientology alone, starting in 1968, because I was the only one who was speaking out. This is a wonderful thing that there are people speaking out now. But when I started, absolutely nobody else did it. And I was the only person until -- from 1968 until 1973.
In 1973, Nan McLean joined, and the two of us spoke out publicly. And then in 1976, Gabe Cazares joined, and there were the three of us.
When I started in 1968, there was no support from the press, there were no rallies, there were no grand juries looking into Scientology, there were no lawyers like Mike, Mr. Flynn. There was no peer acceptance about what you were doing; there was just no understanding that anything was wrong. It was somewhat like a social group that people were joining and it had a veneer that everything was going along well, although, based on the testimony you've had here, you know, these dirty tricks were going on. But if I said that they were, people thought that I was the one that was making these things up about them.
I'd like to give a little background as to how I got interested in the subject. I never was a Scientologist. My basic interest is as a writer; I like investigative things. In addition, I have a Master's Degree in Psychology, and I studied Comparative Religion at Harvard for a summer.
A friend of mine, in 1968, joined Scientology and he ended up in a mental institution. I'm not saying that one caused the other, but it certainly piqued my curiosity. When he escaped, he came to visit me and he told me that he was Jesus Christ. I then had --
MR. [James] BERFIELD [City Commissioner]: He was who?
MS. COOPER: Jesus Christ. And he'd been a pretty normal person before then.
I then called our mutual friend who had gotten him in and said, "He thinks he's Christ." And my friend said, "Well, he really is." So, I thought, "Well, this bears some investigation."
I went in and took their weekend course. During the time, I wandered away from the group where they were teaching the particular, well, TRs, as they call them, and I came upon a list of people, who -- I don't remember for sure if it was a Fair Game Order, but I think it was, because these people were being declared enemies of mankind. And it was very odd terminology. I remember one woman's name was on there and it declared her enemy of mankind for pushing five men down a flight of stairs. And what -- how could she do that? It just didn't ring like true.
And I decided to contact some of these people when I came home. And I think I took about five names, the five top people, and every one of them had an unlisted number, disconnected phone. Well, this is 1968, and the people it was attracting were twenty-two, twenty-three years old. And just by chance, a whole group of people are not going to have five unlisted numbers unless there's a reason for people to unlist their number.
So, it began to bother me that, you know, was this so-called respectable Church perhaps harassing people? And in that one weekend, I had noted that they had lied about certain things, and I wondered about a church lying to people. And I decided to look in the library and see if I could get any information, any book. And I discovered that all the stories had been clipped out of every single magazine pertaining to Scientology, and I wondered whether this Church was, perhaps, possibly stealing things.
Well, I spent the next couple of years doing research into Scientology. And my first article came out in December of 1969. That's also the month that I received my first death threat. And then a number of mysterious events occurred, both then and during the time within the next year and a half until my book came out. I was followed on several occasions; we found a phone tap on my phone; I was being multiply sued already at that time. A number of -- oh, people kept calling me and trying to take me out, and it seemed like people were trying to get to me.
And this went on for four unpleasant years, including four lawsuits, one of which was for somebody else's book. And when that happened, I got really annoyed. And I became the first person to sue them for harassment, and this was actually shocking to them because Hubbard had written that an enemy of -- that no one would ever sue Scientology, that they had too much to hide and that the people were criminals whoever attacked the Church, and, therefore, we were going to just wither away and die.
So, they then decided -- as we know later and I'm going to discuss this later -- at that time that they were out to get me and they would have to silence me because, after my book came out, I began to receive very, very disturbing calls. And the type of things that you've been hearing for the last few days were the type of things that people would call and tell me what -- mysterious things happening to them, that -- all kinds of very unpleasant things. And that everybody had a sort of paranoid feeling and they were afraid to speak out; people were very afraid to speak out. And yet, when enough people who don't know each other tell you the same thing happening to them, you begin to realize that something is going on.
Well, about October of 1972, they started a big campaign to finally silence me or attempt to stop me. The -- that month I received the second of what was ultimately to be five anonymous, absolutely disgusting smear letters about me. This particular one called me a part-time prostitute, and you can imagine how upsetting it is to open up something like that and read it.
During this same period of time, there were a large number of attempts to get into my apartment, which was on the ground floor of the building that I lived in at the time; it was not well guarded, and I was quite concerned. I received a tremendous number of really disgusting calls, and I remember one day counting eleven calls.
Remember that I work as a freelance writer. That means that if I get upsetting calls and I'm unhappy, it's very hard to just pick up and to write what you were working on. A lot of abusive calls then and over the years, just the sort of -- you pick up the phone and somebody says, "Oh, what are you doing?" And they'd hang up and call back, so you have to take the phone off the hook. And if you're trying to reach somebody, they can't call you back.
Well, I finally decided that I was going to move to a higher-security apartment, even though I really could not afford to do so at the time. I moved on December 15th. On December -- the person who took over the apartment was my second cousin. We bore a physical resemblance, but -- basically, because we're about the same age and she was very petite and we both had short, brown hair at the time.
And a series of mysterious circumstances occurred. The important thing was that she opened up the door to someone who had flowers and rang my bell. And I was no longer living there, although, my name was still on the door. And so, Eddie Walters told you about R2-45, and you've heard the policy. When Joy opened the door to get these flowers, he unwrapped the gun -- he unwrapped the flowers and there was a gun in it. And he took the gun and he put it at Joy's temple and he cocked the gun, and we don't know whether it misfired, whether it was empty and it was a scare technique, what happened, but, somehow, the gun did not go off. And the -- he started choking her, and she was able to break away and she started to scream. And the person ran away.
And so, she called a detective and he said, "It's a very wild attack because there doesn't seem to be any motive for it." There was no attempted rape, there was no attempted robbery, and why should somebody just suddenly try to kill her.
The -- about a week or two later at my new apartment, I received a visit from the FBI. And they informed [me] that the public relations person for Scientology had claimed that she had received a couple of bomb threats and asked -- and had named me as somebody likely to send bomb threats. So, the -- I didn't take the whole thing very seriously, and the FBI asked me if I would mind being fingerprinted. And I said that I would not, and I was fingerprinted.
At the same time my cousin Joy's boyfriend had been very, very upset about what happened. And he said, "Boy, you better let your Scientology spies know that you have moved and where you are because I don't want anything to happen to her again." And I did.
And shortly thereafter, in my -- to my new building, half the tenants, which is approximately three hundred tenants in the building, received a very, very disgusting anonymous smear letter about me, trying to get me kicked out of the apartment, and saying that I had venereal disease, that I would sexually molest little children. The only thing that was true in the letter was my age, which was not something I wanted known anyway. And it was very, very embarrassing. As I was walking through the building -- and I've heard people talking about me in the elevator, and I was just sort of slinking along and I was really -- a month later my parents received an anonymous smear letter about me, accusing me of practicing sexual perversions with their clergyman. These were not very good months.
So -- and I was called for grand jury around this time. At least, I didn't think this was anything very serious and did not bother to retain a lawyer, had very little money because I had used all my money to move to this more expensive, higher-security apartment.
And when I got there, they told me that I was the target of an investigation into the bomb threats. And I went and had to hire a lawyer, and every lawyer wanted -- the least we could get was [a] five thousand-dollar retainer, which, in those years, was like paying ten thousand dollars, you know, today. And to suddenly have to pay this sum of money and find out that you're in serious trouble, and no one would -- the government would not tell my lawyers what the evidence was against me. They wouldn't show me the letters.
Anyway, finally, I went before the grand jury, and I tried to answer every question as truthfully as I could. I never took the Fifth Amendment. And they kept asking me again and again, "Did you ever see this letter? Did you ever touch it? Do you know who might have?" And I said, incidentally, "Yes," that I suspected they might have sent it to themselves because we had some unpleasant confrontations in the press.
And then they asked me to step outside the room. And when I came in, I knew I was in very serious trouble, and they asked me what my social security number was, whether I was on drugs, and did I realize what I had said so far. And again, they asked me the same series of questions.
And then they said, "Well, Miss Cooper, if you've never touched this letter before, could you tell us how your fingerprints got on it?" And I felt like a grand piano had just hit me on the head. I -- I fainted sitting up; the whole room just turned upside down and I didn't know what to do. And then, of course, the lawyers wanted more money.
And on May -- let's see, May 19th, 1973, I was indicted on the three counts of sending bomb threats through the mail; two counts were for two letters. One was for perjury for saying before the grand jury that I hadn't done it and that I thought this public relations person might have done it. On May 29th, ten days later, I was arrested and I was arraigned.
The next eight months were a terrible, terrible nightmare in my life that I still feel sometimes that I suffer from to this day. I had fifteen years in jail over my head and fifteen thousand dollars in fines. I was petrified about going to jail, more so, perhaps, because of my small frame and the fact that I heard that women's federal prisons were rough places.
I risked having my career totally destroyed because -- and I had been successful. And as a freelance writer, what editor is ever going to give an assignment to someone who's been indicted or convicted for sending bomb threats to someone they opposed?
I was very concerned about the indictment and the trial coming out in the newspapers. The public does not know the difference between indict and convict, and they think that if you're on trial for something, you must have done it or where there's smoke, there's fire. I was left with the terrible public humiliation that every person I ever knew in New York would read the details of the trial and these accusations.
I was most concerned about my parents, who had adopted me when I was six years old, and how humiliating it would be for them and their friends to have to explain and to go through a trial like this.
During this period of time, I went through a terrible, terrible depression and a number of my friends, which I can't blame them for, did not stick by me. I was depressing to be with. I had been seeing a man for five years and had intended to marry him, and he left as a result of my depression. I was released on my own recognizance, but I was not allowed to leave the state. And this made it difficult because I had friends in Connecticut and in New Jersey, and it was just all I could do to get away for a weekend. But it was so humiliating to have to go to the court and ask permission to go twenty miles away that I couldn't do it.
I went through a period of very, very acute anxiety. I would go to sleep -- I couldn't fall asleep till about four in the morning and I'd wake up about six with my stomach just in my throat and worrying about what the next day would bring and what was going to happen at the initial hearing. And this went on for eight months, and I was just totally exhausted, sleeping two to four hours a day. I couldn't drag myself around anymore.
All the money I had had gone to lawyers, and I went into debt to try to continue to pay for them. The -- in the end, just the main lawyers cost nineteen thousand dollars.
I was totally unable to write during this period. I was -- the depression was very, very bad and I couldn't concentrate. I attempted to write, but it was really very bad writing. And I stopped eating because I was filled with such nausea and exhaustion. I tried to force myself to have -- I took a sixteen-ounce glass of tomato juice each day and two eggs. About half the time, I would just eat it and then go to [the] bathroom and throw it up; I just couldn't hold food in my stomach.
Oh, a year earlier I had been operated on and a lot of the -- I was physically ill as well during this period. Mentally, I just totally fell apart about half way through. I developed, for the first time in my life, acute agoraphobia; I couldn't leave the house. I think that this really started with this attempted murder that I felt had been intended for me. But then, you have to remember, I didn't want to walk around my building because I was hearing people talking about the lady with VD.
And I had been very concerned when they were going to arrest me that they were going to arrest me in the lobby of my building and humiliate me among my neighbors further. So, this was the genesis of a sudden inability to go out.
And some of my friends were very, very good. They would come over and try to force me to get out and get my mind off what was going on. It worked for a while. Around September/October, it didn't work anymore. One friend came over, alarmed that I had not left the house for a week, and he said, "You've got to walk around the block." And I remember we stepped outside about two or three steps and I just started crying and I said, "Don't make me. I can't do it; I just can't do it." And then I went home and I stayed inside for about two more weeks.
And meanwhile, during this period of time, there was a friend, a new friend, who I met under somewhat mysterious circumstances, but he was very, very helpful. And I obtained an apartment for him in my building, and he did some of the food shopping that I could not get out and do. And his name was Jerry Levin.
And everybody -- the worst period of time was approximately two weeks before the trial. My lawyers informed me that, with a federal case, it was a ninety-five percent chance of conviction. They then gave me the good news that, for the trial, they wanted my parents to be seated in the front row and watch the entire proceedings. And I kept saying, "You can't do that to them. It's going to be awful enough for them to read it in the paper." And they said, "You don't understand, if your parents don't show up, the jury doesn't realize," you know, "that this is what you want. They're just going to" -- they felt that the one circumstance that might get me acquitted was the mutually close relationship with my parents.
On top of that, going through some Scientology material that I had obtained, there was the name of Jerry Levin. Now, I felt horribly betrayed, but at the same time I simply did not want to believe it. I was very naive, and his name was a very common name, especially, in a city like New York.
Meanwhile, we had tried every single move possible to get the trial stopped. And -- but I was in a very, very nervous state and it was impossible for me to be tested correctly. And we went to some doctors who said that they felt the only thing that might work would be if I would go into a state where I didn't know what was going on, meaning sodium pentothal or truth serum, because to do that, you have to be -- you're unconscious; it's like an operation.
So, the problem was we couldn't find a doctor who would give me a sodium pentothal test because, by this time, I weighed eighty-three pounds; I had started about ninety-eight. And it became very, very dangerous to go and put somebody under, as if for an operation, and do that. And I just said I didn't care if the operation -- not the operation, but if the sodium pentothal killed me because, if I had to stand trial for what I didn't do and humiliate everyone and go through this humiliation, that I would just as soon be dead anyway.
And we finally did find a doctor two weeks before trial who gave me a sodium pentothal test. I was unconscious for seven hours. I don't know what I said during that. I do know that, when I came to, my mother was standing there and I said, "What happened? What did I say?" And she just said, "It's okay. It's all over. There won't be a trial."
The government wanted to save face because they don't like to admit that they've made a mistake. So, they said that they wouldn't actually -- they would postpone the trial, but they would not actually drop the charges at that time. They also ordered me to see a psychiatrist which I thought was very humiliating.
The government did not drop the charges and, for two years after all this, I still had to worry on a daily basis whether one day there was going to be a trial and all of these things that I was afraid of, the prison and so on, was going to happen.
The next year was 1974, and there were a number of new lawsuits against me. Oh, continued harassments, including harassments of my family and their clergyman, new spies. By the summer, which was about seven months after the worst period of this whole thing, I remember that one of my friends said that that was the first time he had seen me smile in a year and a half.
And so, I decided, in fact, that I was going to try to get back this gentleman that I was interested in. And I threw a birthday party to have an excuse to invite him to something and I sent an invitation, and he then wrote me the most incredible letter back. And what I found out was that there was then a filthy anonymous smear letter about me, this one sent to him and his bosses, and he would never talk to me again; and he never has.
In 1975, the charges against me were finally dropped. But during this period, they started a new type of harassment. And then I began receiving things in the mail, such as copies of -- I had kept a diary from when I was seventeen to about twenty, and there was my diary suddenly coming back to me, copies of letters that I had sent out -- or my carbon copy of it -- and a psychiatrist's report that Mr. Dardano explained that he stole.
In 1976, the charges were -- no, excuse me. In late '75, the charges were finally dropped. At that point some very bizarre things happened that, it wasn't until later, I would learn were part of another attempt to put me in jail. But -- for example, people were -- somebody was calling a number of my close friends, imitating my voice to a degree that was good enough that some people stopped talking to me, others called and yelled at me: why should I have called and been so rude and so on. And I said, "I didn't call." And then I went to a writers' meeting and someone said, "Gee, how was Washington?" I said, "I haven't been to Washington in two years." They said, "You called from Washington." I didn't understand at the time why these things were being done.
Also, at a -- I was with a group of writers and someone showed me a joke, and I realized afterwards that it appeared to be an attempt to get my fingerprints again. And I became very, very upset because, after all, I had a, quote, record, end quote. And I was very concerned about the possibility of more bomb threats.
In -- there were many, many more things that were done to me over the years, but this is -- I'm trying to summarize a little bit.
In December of 1976, I became very, very tired of it all. By that time there were nine lawsuits against me. Right before I went to court, all the stuff was remailed to me that was mailed in the past, sort of a subtle blackmail: "This is what's going to happen if you don't settle." Scientology wanted me to settle quite badly.
Also, they convinced me at that time that they [had] changed and that they really were a very nice organization, and that, by my continued statements and stance against them and my book, I was preventing them from doing the good deeds that they wanted to do or that they were doing by bringing up the bad things all the time. And in December of '76, I agreed, in a sense, that -- it's easier to just say that I agreed, in a sense, not to bad mouth them and they agreed not to bad mouth me.
While they were telling me that they had changed, unbeknownst to me, there was a man named Michael Meisner -- and he had been a top GO operative -- and they were holding him under gag and handcuff. And this man knew that I had been criminally framed and he knew about a lot of things that had been going on.
In the summer of 1977, the FBI raided the three Scientology organizations. On October 12th, 1977, the FBI called me. Now, remember, this was a five-year period that I had never been able to prove my innocence; the government considered me a criminal; I had a, quote, record, end quote. And the FBI called out of the blue and said, "We have just received evidence that you were innocent of this -- those original charges." And I hung up the phone and cried and I, in fact, tried to reach that person that was no longer talking to me, but he had since remarried.
I worked with the FBI for the next couple of years. I did learn before -- in the investigation that was going on that the murder attempt on Joy was seemingly intended for me by Scientology. I learned that they had broken -- Scientology had broken into my New York lawyer's office and -- this was one of many lawyers to break into, but that was the first one. And I learned, which was, to me, the most important thing, that they had framed me in 1972.
And -- let me skip ahead a little bit to some of the stuff that -- there were more lawsuits.
Anyway, at the end of 1979, I finally saw the documents that had been seized. There were twenty-three thousand documents. And there were documents -- I'm sorry, twenty-three thousand that were available to the public. And there were two documents that finally made it very clear that I had been criminally framed, and it was very important to me that, at last, I was publicly able to proclaim my innocence and not worry about the -- what anybody would say, and that I no longer -- I always felt that I had to hide the fact that I had been arrested. And if I would meet someone and if they had any political ambitions, I wouldn't tell him why, but I would quickly stop seeing him for his sake. So, it was something that I was hiding, and it was affecting my live in various ways.
We found one document that, apparently, indicated that they were considering the use of the Mafia on me, but that they decided instead to criminally frame me, so that Scientology would not look bad. We found a document that -- we found a number of documents that proved that this fellow who had been helping me, I thought, during the period that I was, oh, having such a bad time -- he was calling a diary into Scientology as to what I was doing, how close I was to suicide, and, you know, cheering me on, like, you know: "She can't sleep again, that she's talking suicide. Wouldn't this be great for Scientology?" It's very strange from reading the diary of somebody that you think is a friend and is wishing you dead and working in your behalf towards that direction.
Incidentally, this particular fellow, whose name was Jerry Levin -- they changed his name to Don Alberto, and he became one of the biggest dirty tricks operatives down in Clearwater. He also was the person that was sent to Washington and planted the bug in the IRS.
We saw a document called Operation Freakout, which Mr. Flynn started to show you before. Remember, I mentioned these very bizarre phone calls, people posing as me? We think that they were trying to test my voice because, part of Operation Freakout -- Operation Freakout consisted of six different ways to try to get me jailed again, since the charges had been dropped. One of the ways was to call in bomb threats in a voice that would sound like mine; another was to write bomb threats very similar to the original ones but pasted on Writers' Digest stationery, so that they would come to the conclusion that -- so that the FBI would come to the conclusion that this must have been done by a writer.
Operation Freakout consisted of plans to have somebody pose as me -- find out what I was wearing, have someone dress like me, look like me, and they would crack up publicly and they would try to get me arrested for that person threatening to bomb various places.
The other document that I saw was that a number of these lawsuits against me were being maliciously created. For example, they were bringing my book, The Scandal of Scientology, into countries where it had not even been published and they were saying -- you know, so -- "brought the book in so we can sue."
The reason for those terrible calls that I had mentioned was that they had put my name up on walls throughout Manhattan and -- with my phone number, so that people would give me these calls.
Operation Owl was in there. I don't know if I mentioned that Operation Freakout originated in Clearwater, even though the basis of the attack was against a New York resident, namely, me.
Mr. Flynn showed you Operation Owl, which also originated in Clearwater.
Oh, a copy of my diary -- the one that had been mailed to me -- was found in a file marked "National Council of Churches." They had hidden a lot of their -- the stuff that they shouldn't have had. And there were also things that I didn't even know that they had gotten. For example, my mother once complained to me that she couldn't figure out why for the last few years my father kept being audited again and again, and nothing ever turned up; he's an excrutiatingly honest person. And there was an order to give an anonymous tip to the IRS that my father was evading taxes, and I don't know if that was the cause of it. But I'm saying that it was this type of thing.
I also learned from the documents that they were suing me for things that were true. For example, they repeatedly sued me for saying that Charles Manson was a Scientologist, and there were fifty to a hundred documents showing how they were trying to hide the fact that Charles Manson had studied Scientology.
There were surveillance reports. I think I had mentioned that I'd been followed at various times and was pretty sure of it. It's kind of spooky sitting there and reading, you know, "She turned up Aken Street, walked for five minutes there, stopped in the candy store."
And there were reports that my friends were being harassed. There was a notation to cause trouble with this gentleman that I mentioned. There were spies' reports and taped transcripts of telephone conversations that I had had with people.
The -- I think I spoke to 60 Minutes when I was down here in Clearwater last, and I said then that I had been saying that these types of things had been going on and people kept saying, "Well, what is she talking about? This is a church." And it was incredible vindication to look at these documents and see that everything I had said about Scientology since 1968 was true, and that they had turned out to be worse than anything I had said or even imagined.
Now, Scientology, at that time, had said that they had changed. And I know because Gabe -- Mayor Cazares mailed me the same things from the Clearwater Sun, and I read what they told you.
While they were saying that, they had learned where I was in Washington, D.C., at the Washington Hilton, and planted a bug by my bed there and, also, a bug on the telephone, during this period of time while they were making these statements in Clearwater about how they had changed.
And I do not believe that they have changed, and that -- this is one of the reasons, or the main reason, why I wanted to come here and warn you, because I have been studying this for many years. And I have heard them say that they have changed and, gee, they don't -- they may be issuing that kind of statement after this is over; "Well, you know, there were some things that were said, but, you know, we don't do that anymore" kind of thing.
And I've heard before -- even before I started researching Scientology -- they were saying this. For example, in 1965, there was something called the Australian Inquiry, a Commission to look into Scientology. Anyway, after studying Scientology, the Commission came to the conclusion that Scientology -- quote: "Scientology is evil, its techniques evil. Its practice is a serious threat medically, morally, and socially. Its adherence often establishes it with the mentally ill." And at that time Scientology issued a statement that, of course, they had changed.
In 1968, I believe, with the Foster Report, when the English held an inquiry to look into Scientology, and Scientology issued a statement that Fair Game had been cancelled, that the Disconnect Policy had been cancelled, and that everything had changed.
In 1975, they had World Prayer Day, and the press all believed at that time that they had changed. In December of 1976, when I settled with them, I believed they had changed. In 1977, when the FBI raided them, they said that they had changed. In '79, when statements came out about what was in the documents, and in 1980, again, they were telling people that they had changed.
And my final point is that I believe that they haven't changed. I believe that their basic policy, ever since the policy was first written, has been the Fair Game Policy. The policy is to trick people; the policy is to sue people; the policy is to lie to people and to destroy them. And I certainly know from a personal standpoint.
And I've only briefly told you some of the things that they've done to me, so that you're not deceived by their true nature. I've been studying them for fourteen years and, unfortunately, I've been a victim of this cult for fourteen years. And I believe that Scientology has never changed, will never change, and will keep issuing statements to people saying that they've changed.
MR. LeCHER: Thank you for your --
MR. FLYNN: If I could just make one point of information for the Commission that I believe is significant: The most relevant portion of Miss Cooper's testimony is the fact that for years she suffered from harassment and framing, which was -- has been proved by some of the documents already in evidence, to which she's testified, and the documents that we put in evidence before this Commission.
The final area for this Commission to examine is that of deception on all of the items that I mentioned earlier: deception of confidential auditing information, Mr. Hubbard's background, the goals, policies, purposes, and practices of the organization to the thousands of people that are coming here to Clearwater and paying millions of dollars.
Miss Cooper's evidence vividly describes the policy of the Church to utilize the Fair Game Policy, of which most Church members who are paying millions of dollars do not know. And that policy has been described, from 1968, in her testimony right up to the present time.
And the Commission will be able to derive whatever inferences are appropriate from her testimony with regard to the practice and deception regarding the goals and purposes and operations of the Church of Scientology in this city.
MR. LeCHER: I'd like to say: Thank you for your story and thank you for the evidence that relates specifically to Clearwater.
I have at various times talked to members of the Church of Scientology who have told me that they've changed, too, as recently as Heber Jentzsch a few months ago, who said that they had changed.
And I thank you for telling us your story. I don't -- every story today seems to get more incredible as the people come on.
And I don't know how you could survive what you have survived, and I think that you must be one hell of a woman.
I -- I really have no questions. I don't know how you even -- you can trust anybody anymore: a man that you might meet that he is one of them and trying to get you again. That must prey on your mind. And what with -- even with just day-to-day contact with business associates and females and family members.
So, I don't want to put you through any more of your story. You've relived it, an aberration for these many years.
And I will then refer to my colleagues, and I hope that they will also be sensitive to that fact and also be brief.
Who do I start with?
MR. [James] BERFIELD [City Commissioner]: I have -- I have just one question, and it's not so related to what happened to you there. But you said you've spent fifteen years in studying Scientology?
MS. COOPER: Well, I started researching in 1968; it's fourteen years.
MR. BERFIELD: In this study --
MS. COOPER: Yeah.
MR. BERFIELD: -- without any reference to religion --
MS. COOPER: Mm-mm.
MR. BERFIELD: -- and going back, have you found out where they picked up these deceptive ideas from or whose -- were they L. Ron Hubbard's or did he get them from somebody else or what?
MS. COOPER: Well, when I researched the book, I went through a tremendous number of early policy letters by Hubbard, things that he wrote about in the early 1950's, even when it was Dianetics. And the fraud was just started way back; Hubbard excelled in it. He was constantly lying to his people. You find that, you know, that one thing just totally negated another. And I think the deception and the lies all stem from Mr. Hubbard.
MR. BERFIELD: Thank you.
MR. LeCHER [Mayor]: Okay.
Does anyone have any questions?
Thank you very much.