On July 30, 2009, the Seattle Times published a letter from Rev. Ann Pearce, who criticized a June 21st article reporting on the St. Petersburg Times’ “The Truth Rundown”.

According to the content of her letter, Rev. Ann Pearce would have us believe that the accounts of abuses by Scientology leader David Miscavige are not to be trusted, since the sources are from only four former members:

The article uncritically accepts as truth statements from a handful of former church staff without ever addressing their lack of credibility, their underlying motivations and the voluminous evidence proving their stories were false. These individuals lost their positions of authority within the church for incompetence and for serious misconduct. The sources named in the article plainly targeted the man who removed them, David Miscavige.

Rev. Anne Pearce’s letter drew many comments, including this one from myself – which I will make permanent here:

Although the St. Petersburg Times’ special report on the Church of Scientology chief David Miscavige represents a milestone, accounts of David Miscavige’s abuses were not new: Over decades, accounts of physical abuses have been brought to light by former members. As early as 1987, in a BBC’s Panorama report, former member Don Larson described how David Miscavige physically abused a Scientology Mission holder.

Rev. Ann Pearce’s reaction to the accounts of abuses in the St. Pete illustrates perfectly why the “outside” world is needed to bring accountability to the Church of Scientology management: Not only Scientology doesn’t have built-in mechanisms for rooting out abuses/wrongdoings/etc from within, it actually crowds out any such mechanism through Scientology’s “Suppressive Person” doctrine:

Any staff expressing the slightest doubt toward David Miscavige’s leadership would be deemed as damaging and potentially destructive toward Scientolology and its management (see HCOPL 23 December 1965 “SUPPRESSIVE ACTS”), declared “Suppressive” and thrown out with absolutely no regard to the validity if their concerns. As designed by L. Ron Hubbard.

In my answer, I mentioned Don Larson’s account off the top of my head. Looking a bit more into this, I found that accounts of abuse are found as early as 1984, as seen in an article from the now defunct Clearwater Sun, titled “Horror story told in sect suit” (transcript), and in which former Scientologist Howard D. Schomer recounts to the court:

David Miscavige, Pat Broeker and others took Schomer from his room on Oct. 28 1982, and interrogated him for more than 10 hours. He was denied food and water and accused of working for “enemies” of the sect.During the interrogation, called a “sec check,” David Miscavige spat tobacco juice in Schomer’s face and told him: “I’m going to fix you.” Miscavige told Schomer that if he did not “come clean,” Miscavige would see that Schomer “was thrown in jail by having ‘witnesses’ falsely accuse (Schomer) of having committed crimes.”

Let’s see: “having ‘witnesses’ falsely accuse”… Something to ponder when reading Rev. Ann Pearce’s letter to the Seattle Times, or the Church of Scientology’s official answer to the St. Petersburg Times’ special report.