Occupied Clearwater

Exposing the criminal cult of Scientology in the Tampa Bay area


"The Church of Scientology, started by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to 'clear' people of unhappiness, portrays itself as a religion. In reality the church is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner."
Thriving Cult of Greed and Power
May 6, 1991

July 29, 2002


Unmistakable presence
St. Petersburg Times
July 28, 2002

"[Dr. Mack] Sigmon said he hopes city officials are committed to fostering economic prosperity downtown. He said he still hears people say they don't have any reason to come downtown -- that there's nothing in downtown but Scientology."

Losses, lawsuits, and Scientology
Light Reading
July 25, 2002

"CEO Zwan is a central, and controversial, figure. Entire Websites have been devoted to panning his leadership. Check out DIGL-watch, for instance, which is devoted to Zwan's Scientologist activities and how they may or may not have influenced his management of Digital Lightwave."

The CEO and his church
St. Petersburg Times
June 2, 2002

"'We are a public company,' [Digital Lightwave CEO Bryan] Zwan said. 'We have nothing to do with the Church of Scientology. It has no role in this company.' But a four-month review by the St. Petersburg Times, drawing on thousands of pages of court documents and dozens of interviews, makes it clear that the fortunes and the misfortunes of Digital Lightwave have been profoundly affected by influential Scientologists with close ties to the church."

Scientologists fined in France
May 17, 2002

"A French court has fined the Paris branch of the Church of Scientology for data protection violation but acquitted it of attempted fraud and false advertising in connection with its efforts to recruit and keep members."

Ex-Scientologist collects $8.7 million in 22-year-old case
Washington Post
May 10, 2002

"Nearly 22 years ago, Lawrence Wollersheim, a disaffected member of the Church of Scientology, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles accusing the church of mental abuse that pushed him to the brink of suicide. Teams of lawyers and various rulings came and went, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judgments against the church hit $30 million, then dropped to $2.5 million. But the Church of Scientology never paid -- until yesterday, when officials wrote a check for more than $8.6 million to end the case, one of the longest-running in California history."

Allegations won't alter church suit
St. Petersburg Times
May 3, 2002

"A wrongful death lawsuit against the Church of Scientology probably won't be dismissed because of recent allegations of legal misconduct, a judge indicated Thursday."

Scientology foes continue rancor
St. Petersburg Times
May 1, 2002

"Millionaire Scientology critic Robert Minton has expanded his criticism of the lawyer fighting the Church of Scientology over the death of Lisa McPherson... [Ken] Dandar described Minton's affidavit as 'all lies,' motivated by Scientology's extortion of Minton. The church, Dandar said, is threatening Minton with a racketeering lawsuit."

Church targets lawsuit attorney
St. Petersburg Times
Apr. 29, 2002

"The Church of Scientology is rolling out an aggressive set of legal maneuvers aimed at wiping out one of its biggest headaches: the lawsuit blaming the church for the 1995 death of Lisa McPherson."

Web site a trove of Slatkin material, shots at Scientology
Santa Barbara News-Press
Apr. 26, 2002

"Why are a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, a Canadian journalist and a New York Web site designer so interested in Reed Slatkin? The answer is Scientology...
As for the Web site, http://www.slatkinfraud.com, it has evolved from its focus on Scientology, posting reams of financial documents and court records."

Scientologists invade hospital after terrorist attack
Jerusalem Post
Apr. 19, 2002

"Members of the Scientologists cult in Tel Aviv managed to get into the public information center set up at Ichilov Hospital immediately after the recent terrorist attack in Allenby Street, where they spoke to families of the injured and gave out propaganda material on their cult, reports Tel Aviv Hebrew weekly."
(Full story)

Scientologists rethink plans for building
St. Petersburg Times
Apr. 19, 2002

"Officials with the Church of Scientology's Tampa headquarters say they probably won't relocate to an old west Tampa cigar factory building they purchased last year."

Scientology church eyes West Tampa
Tampa Tribune
Apr. 18, 2002

"The Church of Scientology of Tampa might move its headquarters to a refurbished cigar factory in West Tampa. The church bought the Andres Diaz building at 3102 N. Habana Ave. in October for $1.1 million and has inquired about other cigar buildings and houses in the neighborhood, Executive Director Sheri Payson said Wednesday."

Earthlink founder Slatkin to plead guilty to fraud
Mar. 26, 2002

"The 53-year-old Slatkin, who helped finance EarthLink and make it one of the nation's largest Internet service providers, was charged with orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme in which he solicited more than $593 million from some 800 investors -- including members of the Church of Scientology, where he is a minister."

Reed Slatkin Media Resource
"Earthlink co-founder Reed Slatkin, an unregistered investment manager and ordained Scientology minister, has reportedly defrauded clients of close to 255 million dollars in a Ponzi-type investment scheme. Many of his victims were fellow Scientologists; others were wealthy investors with Hollywood connections."

Google pulls anti-Scientology links
CNET News.com
Mar. 21, 2001

"Google was accused Wednesday of effectively removing from the Internet a Web site that is critical of the Church of Scientology after it deleted links to some of the site's pages from its search engine."

Bryan Zwan, Digital Lightwave, and Scientology
"Digital Lightwave, Inc. (NASDAQ: DIGL) was founded by Scientologist Bryan Zwan in 1990 to develop network technology products for the fiber-optic industry, and began a high-profile roller-coaster ride on the booming technology market when it went public in 1997. In its short history, DIGL has been involved in a class-action lawsuit, an SEC investigation, and a wrongful termination complaint...
DIGL-Watch.com focuses on three separate cases, each occuring during Zwan's tenure as CEO and each demonstrating the malignant influence of Scientology in the corporate environment."

Wireless Webconnect! and Scientology
"Wireless WebConnect! (OTC symbol: WWCO.OB), founded in 1991 under the original name of Business Tel by Gerald T. Finn (aka Deac Finn, or GT Finn) has recently brought a rash of negative attention upon itself that cries out for scrutiny in a larger forum. Wireless WebConnect! is a member of the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE), which, as the name implies, it is comprised of companies that use Scientology "tech" in the day-to-day management of the company, for which they pay substantial licensing fees to the church. More alarming perhaps is the fact that many of WWC's officers were members of both OSA and the infamous Guardian's Office, Scientology's investigative and espionage arms."

Scientologists have taken over
St. Petersburg Times
Mar. 6, 2001

"A few years ago, the Scientologists marched around the Clearwater Police Department chanting angry slogans at Chief Sid Klein. Now a judge accuses the department of being 'dangerously close to becoming a private security force for the Church of Scientology.'

"Now, we come to understand that Scientology has more than 100 spy cameras in downtown Clearwater. Judge Thomas Penick, the great invasion is over; this is occupation time. Maybe we should hire a city psychiatrist instead of a city manager. Seems to me the city is a little bipolar."

-- Greg Barnes, Clearwater

Newcomer leading in Seat 3 money race
St. Petersburg Times
Feb. 28, 2001

"[Clearwater City Commission candidate Hoyt] Hamilton is willing to accept support from the Church of Scientology in his campaign, while [candidate Rita] Garvey, a longtime critic of Scientology, said she expects church members will work against her. Still, both candidates said the city has to learn how to peacefully coexist with Scientology downtown. 'People will think I'm pro-Scientology,' Hamilton said. 'But I'm just a realist.' "

Scientology Chic
National Review
Feb. 24, 2001

"We will likely never know what went wrong between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, but a recent article in the New York Post suggests that Tom Cruise's Scientology was a big part of the problem. Apparently, Ms. Kidman is disenchanted with the controversial religion, and does not want her children to be reared in it. All this has subsequently been denied, but if it is true, who would blame her?"

Judge takes Scientology, critics to task
St. Petersburg Times
Feb. 22, 2001

"To the church, [Circuit Court Judge Thomas E.] Penick said there is no need for Scientology agents to continually stick cameras in critics' faces. To the keepers of the Lisa McPherson Trust, he demanded they stop taunting Scientologists and fined two of them. To the Clearwater police, Penick said he sympathizes with their struggle to maintain order in downtown Clearwater but warned, 'They are coming very dangerously close to becoming a private security force for the Church of Scientology.' "

Nicole's Nightmare
Daily Mail
Feb. 17, 2001

"They wire up children to lie detectors, interrogate them about their families and denounce non-believers as enemies. Is this what devoted mother Nicole Kidman so fears about Tom Cruise's obsession with Scientology?"

Leaving the Fold: Third-generation Scientologist grows disillusioned with faith
San Francisco Chronicle
Feb. 12, 2001

"Born in England to Scientology parents, Astra Woodcraft came to the United States when she was 7 years old. Her mother, Leslie, had crossed the Atlantic to attend 'advanced auditing sessions' at a large Scientology training center in Clearwater, Fla... 'I hated it,' Astra said. 'All five of us lived in one little cockroach- ridden motel room.' "

Tom & Nicole split a question of faith
New York Post
Feb. 12, 2001

"[Tom] Cruise is so dedicated to the controversial Church of Scientology that he insisted the children were born according to a Scientology ritual. [Nicole] Kidman, on the other hand, left the church nearly a year ago. Sources say she does not want the children, Isabella Jane, 8, and Connor, 6, raised according to the teachings and methods of the controversial religion."

Scientology founder's family life far from what he preached
San Francisco Chronicle
Feb. 12, 2001

"Three years later, Mary Sue Hubbard was among nine of Scientology insiders indicted for infiltrating the Internal Revenue Service and stealing more than 30,000 pages of government documents on the Hubbards and the Church of Scientology."

Scientology, critics spar in weekend court
St. Petersburg Times
Feb. 11, 2001

"The final witness of the day was Scientology staff member Ahmed Elkamel. He testified that as a security officer, he sits in a room at the Fort Harrison Hotel and watches live video feeds from more than 100 cameras on Scientology properties. He said that's how he saw trust member Tory Bezazian walking with picket signs on a public sidewalk alongside a Scientology building downtown."

Scientology trial begins in Spain with indicted American leader
Associated Press
Feb. 6, 2001

"MADRID, Spain (AP) -- A long-awaited trial began Tuesday against Church of Scientology members accused of tax fraud and other crimes, although the main defendant, the church's American leader Rev. Heber Jentzsch, failed to show up."

L. Ron Hubbard Day scrapped
Daily Southtown (Tinley Park, IL)
Feb. 6, 2001

"L. Ron Hubbard, the controversial founder of the Church of Scientology, will not be honored on March 13 in Tinley Park - after Mayor Edward Zabrocki moved quickly Monday to avoid such an embarrassment... The international church, based in Clearwater, Fla., is known for its aggressive recruitment tactics, which have caused many to view it as a cult."

Scientology: ties to Bush team?
Feb. 5, 2001

"Will the Bush administration be a friend to Scientology? Officials at the controversial religion - which many critics have called a cult - have been boasting about its ties to the current administration, and are saying that the president�s support of faith-based social programs could mean that the government will funnel tax money its way."

Scientology and the Clearwater Police
LMT Media
Feb. 1, 2001

"This documentary was produced by the [Lisa McPherson Trust] to demonstrate what we believe to be a clear bias against the LMT by members of the Clearwater Police Force who are on Scientology's payroll."

Scientology adds quietly to holdings
St. Petersburg Times
Jan. 30, 2001

"The Church of Scientology has purchased a 120-unit apartment complex just north of its sprawling Hacienda Gardens staff housing on Saturn Avenue... Few people have heard about the church's $4-million purchase of Sherwood Gardens Apartments in 1999 -- the church bought it under a corporate name."

Clearwater: One city, one scrapped slogan
Occupied Clearwater: One City. One Cult. St. Petersburg Times
Jan. 29, 2001

"The 'One City. One Future' logo, of course, was heavily associated with controversial former City Manager Mike Roberto."

The French and German versus American debate over "new religions", Scientology, and human rights
Marburg Journal of Religion
Vol. 6, No. 1, Jan., 2001

"The most dramatic case in point involves the knowledge that many European government officials have about Scientology's operation of forced labour and re-indoctrination programs in California and Florida... These abusive programs, named the Rehabilitation Project Force or, simply, RPF, involve forcible confinement, physical coercion, social and psychological degradations, obligatory confessions, and hard labour, which the Scientology organization imposes upon its most committed but deviating or poorly performing members."

Scientology to lodge performers
St. Petersburg Times
Jan. 19, 2001

"When music stars Roberta Flack, David Sanborn and Dr. John come to Clearwater for a Super Bowl weekend concert, they will stay in accommodations rarely seen by the public -- the Church of Scientology's signature spiritual retreat, the Fort Harrison Hotel."

Dismissal of Scientology libel suit upheld
New York Law Journal
Jan. 16, 2001
 'Scientology: Thriving Cult of Greed and Power'; TIME Magazine, May 6, 1991 "In a libel lawsuit, the Church of Scientology failed to show actual malice by a writer for Time magazine, which published an expos� of the organization in 1991, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has held. The appeals court, in a suit filed over the Time cover story 'Scientology: The Cult of Greed,' also said that no reasonable jury could find that reporter Richard Behar published allegations about a stock scam and murder-suicide involving members of the church 'with purposeful avoidance of the truth.'... Mr. Behar's 10-page article criticized Scientology as a 'ruthless global scam' posing as a religion that survived 'by intimidating members and critics in a "Mafia-like" manner.' "

Continued in the News Archive

Did you know that...?

The Scientology cult has more than 100 security cameras monitoring the downtown areas around its Flag Land Base properties.

Smile, Clearwater! You're on Scientology's candid camera!

Ref: St. Petersburg Times

Copyright Tilman Hausherr 1998.
Scientology security guard in an extremely police-like uniform.
Photo by Tilman Hausherr.

Recommended Sites

Operation Clambake - www.xenu.net

The Church of Scientology vs. The Net

Electronic Frontier Foundation - www.eff.org

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