The O. J. Roos Story, by Otto J. Roos | Next | Contents


Otto Roos (1934-) was a loyal disciple, confidant, and auditor of L. Ron Hubbard (LRH), founder of the psychotherapy cult of Scientology. In the early 1960s, at Scientology's Saint Hill headquarters, he was certified as a Class VII Power auditor, and in 1966 was appointed by LRH to the senior auditing post WW, SH Class VII Case Officer Review. Selected, no doubt, for the maritime skills acquired in the Dutch merchant marine, in 1967 Roos joined Hubbard's new Sea Org, and sailed the Mediterranean aboard the "floating ball of theta", the Flagship Royal Scotman (later, Apollo).

Although Roos mentions, in passing, dozens of Scientology's early milestones, "The O. J. Roos Story" is notable for its vivid portrayal of the paranoia, fear, and misery engendered aboard "Flag" by Hubbard's "severe ethics:"

Rusty old tanks, way below in the ship, filthy bilge water, no air except via oxygen tubes, and hardly sitting height, in which "sinners" were put from 24 hours to a week, day and night ... like the Concentration Camps from my childhood days.

In the other focus of his Story, Roos recounts the events that led to his expulsion from Scientology. In 1972, Hubbard had fallen gravely ill, and Roos surmised from Scientology theory that the cause (and perhaps a cure) could be traced to an auditing mistake that would be recorded in Hubbard's preclear folders. With approval from LRH, Roos organized a committee of the highest-ranking auditors in Scientology (Class XII) to do an FES (Folder Error Summary). They discovered "lots of `discreditable' reads" -- meaning, says the theory, that for evil purposes Hubbard had withheld his overts (failed to confess his sins to the auditor). When Roos had the temerity to point these out, Hubbard flew into a "maniacal" rage, which XII C/S Roos diagnosed as "typical MW/H [missed withhold] reactions."

Hubbard would have none of it. Otto may have held the highest auditing post in Scientology -- Tech Flub/Catch Control, the forerunner of C/S Int (Case Supervisor International) -- but his reward for "making the Commodore wrong" was "Station Termination" (dismissal), followed by declaration as an SP (Suppressive Person). "LRH somehow refused the truth of the folders, and my stubborness clinched the matter."

The evils Roos witnessed on the Apollo did not diminish his faith in L. Ron's Tech. He concludes with an expression of pity: that Hubbard, in failing to heed the FESer's warning, "penalised himself horribly by denying himself the only thing which could have saved him, his own creation, AUDITING."

Roos in places seems curiously defensive. "I had decided that there were only 2 kinds of people [aboard Flag], those who got into the tanks and those who put them in," he explains, with no apparent motivation. "Having ... survived the atrocities of war, ... I made awfully sure not to go hungry, end up in tanks, not to become a well implanted fanatic." How awfully, we are left to guess, did he make sure? An answer is suggested in the book L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman?, by Bent Corydon, who notes Otto's reputation as a "ruthless disciplinarian." On page 27, we glimpse the man in action:

Otto grabbed this kid out of an upper bunk in the middle of a deep sleep, and body slammed him from five or six feet onto the floor. He put a knife blade to his throat and started screaming he was gonna kill him since he was a "down stat!" Otto seriously freaked this kid out for life right there.... Some maniac with "upstat" braid, who is Hubbard's right-hand shotgun, is going to slit your throat for being a "downstat"....

Jon Atack, however, doubts the reliability of this report, and cautions that Otto was the object of a campaign of slander and "third party" attacks orchestrated by Scientology. Roos himself, in a letter to me, explains:

It has come to my notice that some horror stories in which I was not involved were attributed to me. Having read these, it seems that in some cases there may have been a mix up of identities for the very simple reason that the person concerned just wasn't me. One of the Masters at Arms on the Apollo was the person who carried out some of the disreputable activities I became "credited" with.

Whether or not Otto was the sadist depicted by Corydon, or merely a fearsome disciplinarian, at the end of his Story he expresses some regrets. "Looking back at it, I have unnecessarily hurt people and have taken this as a lesson."

"The O. J. Roos Story" is not kind to the reader. Roos, a Dutchman, roughly handles English, and his relentless cult-speak will aberrate raw meat. His style is terse and semi-literate; his presentation, of "great randomity." Readers unfamiliar with Scientology and its jargon will find partial relief in Martin Hunt's Terminology FAQ. Connoisseurs of Scientoloquy, however, will savor Otto's occasional eloquence and sardonic wit; as, for example, when he critiques the insufferable arrogance of Flag's crew toward wog authority:

Harbour Masters did not accept one way comm to them, regardless of how "unreasonable" and "Anti Q&A" this comm was.


While researching his book, A Piece of Blue Sky, Jon Atack asked several former members for their stories. Otto Roos responded on 7 September 1984 with "The O.J. Roos Story", along with a cover letter.

A copy of the manuscript found its way to Monica Pignotti (My Nine Lives in Scientology). She sent me the photocopy I have here transcribed for the Web. Only the first page bears evidence of truncation: its bottom line of two words was handwritten on an ancestral document. Text on the other 25 pages (size A4 sheets, copied onto 8.5x14" legal) rests comfortably on bottom margins at least 1.5cm wide.

Idiosyncracies such as uppercased words, grammatical errors and misspellings have been scrupulously preserved, and occasionally noted. Aside from the outline, which I wrote, my editorial notes are confined within [square brackets]. Underlined text in the original is here rendered in italics. Original pagination is indicated in the HTML source. Images of the first and last pages are included, along with a closeup of Roos's signature.

-- Dean Benjamin <> 13 September 1997.

(Version 1 of this HTML was released 7 September 1996.)

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