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of the Times Staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 25, 1998

Sy 1979, Miscavige, at age 19, advanced to the supervisory position of “action chief” in the Commodore’s Messenger Organization. His new job was to send out teams or “missions” to investigate reports Hubbard was getting about poor management of Scientology organizations around the world.

THE HUBBARD COLLECTION: Miscavige created the L. Ron Hubbard Library, which showcases a copy of every book Hubbard authored and many photos he took while traveling.
Among the young “missionaires” Miscavige enlisted were Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun, now in their forties and among the highest ranking officials in Scientology.

By 1980, Hubbard was in seclusion. According to church lore, he was continuing his Scientology research and had returned to writing fiction. Critics claim he was hiding from legal troubles and operating the church from afar.

Among the many departments involved in running the church was the Guardian’s Office, or “GO,” a group that Miscavige says was separate and autonomous from the rest of church management. It had been handling Scientology’s legal, financial and public affairs since 1966 and was headed by Mary Sue Hubbard, the founder’s wife.

Miscavige said his “missions” discovered serious problems with the GO, including stealing the best staffers, not paying bills and failing to file legal pleadings on time.

Scientology also had been embarrassed by the 1979 convictions of Mrs. Hubbard and 10 other GO staffers for conspiring to steal federal government documents and cover it up.

TOP OFFICIALS: Mike Rinder, left, heads Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs. Marty Rathbun is president of Scientology’s Religious Technology Center. Both have worked with Miscavige about 20 years.
Miscavige, Rathbun and Rinder insist the GO was responsible for the activities that so enraged people in Clearwater. According to FBI files, Scientology arrived with plans to control civic leaders and discredit critics. An attempt was made to frame then-mayor Gabe Cazares with a sex smear.

“It’s 20 years later and we had no involvement in it or knowledge it was happening, yet we’re still handling the fallout of it,” Rinder said. He added: “That isn’t us.”

Clearwater never knew Scientology was near collapse from legal problems and its own infighting, Miscavige said. “I thought the church would actually disintegrate.”

In 1981, as Mary Sue Hubbard appealed her prison sentence, Miscavige said he and others concluded she had to go. When none of his superiors would confront the founder’s wife, Miscavige stepped forward.

“I thought if I do something and it’s wrong or I don’t achieve this, I’ve had it. I’m toast,” he said. “But if I don’t do something, after seeing what the GO had been engaged in ... I’m convinced I’m toast anyway.”

During two heated encounters, Miscavige persuaded Mary Sue Hubbard to resign. Together they composed a letter to Scientologists confirming her decision -- all without ever talking to L. Ron Hubbard.

He saw the one-on-one meeting as the only way. “I knew if it was going to be a physical takeover we’re going to lose because they had a couple thousand staff and we (the “messengers”) had about 50. That is the amazing part about it."

MARY SUE HUBBARD: The founder’s wife was ousted by Miscavige from her high post in Scientology in 1981.
Indeed, the scenario is hard to imagine in any other organizational setting. A 21-year-old employee, five years on the staff and with only a modicum of power, manages to oust the boss’s wife by arguing that is what the boss would want.

“People keep saying, ‘How’d you get power?’ ” Miscavige said. “Nobody gives you power. I’ll tell you what power is. Power in my estimation is if people will listen to you. That’s it.”

Today, Mary Sue Hubbard lives in California and Miscavige says the two are friends.

It took five months for word of her resignation to reach her secluded husband, Scientology says. In a sworn statement two years later, Hubbard said of his wife: “Although we are presently apart, we remain husband and wife.”

Miscavige, meanwhile, was rising fast in Scientology, taking charge where others wouldn’t.

Scientology underwent a corporate restructuring after the GO episode, and Hubbard appointed Miscavige in 1982 to run his sizeable fortune through a new corporation formally outside Scientology’s umbrella. Miscavige was only 21. Author Services Inc., based in Los Angeles, would manage Hubbard’s personal, business and literary affairs.

As Miscavige’s position in Scientology grew, allegations began to surface about his conduct.

Main story: page one |page 2 | page 3 | page 4

David Miscavige Speaks
In six hours of interviews, Miscavige discussed and defended the organization he has led since age 26.

A place called ‘gold’
Nowhere is Scientology’s trademark self-sufficiency more clearly in evidence than at its $50-million outpost in the arid hills 90 miles east of Los Angeles.

The cornerstones
Images and exhibits of Scientology.

He lists two without being asked. One is that he raided Hubbard’s assets and did “harm to the founder.” The other is the suggestion Miscavige was involved in the 1985 suicide of his mother-in-law, Mary Florence Barnett, who was said to have associated with a splinter group of Scientologists.

Miscavige is incredulous about being linked to her death. California authorities ruled Ms. Barnett shot herself three times in the chest and once in her right temple with a .22-calibre rifle. One of Ms. Barnett’s daughters told an investigator she had been depressed following surgery.

In 1982, Hubbard’s estranged son took legal action, claiming his father was either dead or incompetent. He alleged Miscavige was running Scientology through Author Services and that Miscavige and another church official were looting the founder’s accounts.

In 1983, Scientology gave the court a sworn statement in which Hubbard claimed to be in a self-imposed seclusion and was fine. The document contained Hubbard’s fingerprints and was signed with special ink that allowed the date of his signature to be confirmed.

It called Miscavige a “trusted associate” and “good friend” who had kept Hubbard’s affairs in good order. A judge ruled the statement was authentic.

In sworn declarations used in several anti-Scientology lawsuits, Miscavige also has been accused of ordering the shredding of documents sought by the IRS and the courts, ordering attacks of church enemies and striking subordinates.

Miscavige’s top lieutenant, Marty Rathbun, said the courts and the IRS got every document they requested. He also said he has never known Miscavige in 20 years to hit anyone. “That’s not his temperament,” Rathbun said. “He’s got enough personal horsepower that he doesn’t need to resort to things like that.”

Said Miscavige, “If a fraction of what they said about me was true -- a fraction -- I wouldn’t be here.”

He added later: “I’ve not only not been convicted of anything, I’ve never been indicted for anything. Now I think that’s where you finally have to look at the, quote, critics and say, “Hey. Put up or shut up. Let’s see some evidence.’”

He expressed impatience with the topic, calling the allegations “ancient history.” Irritated, he said to the Times: “I wonder, what am I doing in this room?”

One of those critics is Vaughn Young, who once worked with Miscavige and left Scientology in 1989 after 20 years.

Subordinates responded to Miscavige with “a combination of admiration and fear,” Young said. “He’s got a serious vicious streak in him that you don’t want to trigger.”

But Young offered praise as well: “He’s got severe political genius in him. He knows how to pick people. He knows how to make people work for him. He knows how to favor them. He knows how to instill just enough fear and threat. He knows how to push people beyond what they think they can do to get things done.”

Miscavige dismisses Young as a consultant who is paid to testify in court against Scientology. Miscavige believes he’s targeted by those who wanted to “bring Scientology to its knees and destroy it” and never forgave him for ousting the GO.

“You would think that that would get me at least a simple thank you,” he said. “Instead what it got me was I think the biggest criminal investigation in the history of the IRS.”

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