Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 3:29 pm
This is from Rick and Vicki Aznaran’s brief
in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1990 in response to Scientology’s appeal from the US District Court’s denial of its motion for a preliminary injunction to enforce the terms of releases and waivers the Aznarans signed while in the cult. Attorney Ford Greene
did a great job on this brief.
The Aznarans signed Scientology's releases and waivers to avoid being declared Suppressive Persons. The cult's purpose for these documents was to suppress evidence, and of course to suppress the Aznarans.
Scientology lost the appeal, and Ford kept the case proceeding to trial for two more years, surviving a massive onslaught of summary judgment motions and extra-litigation attacks. Then the cult – Rathbun, Rinder? – went directly to the Aznarans and paid them to settle their claims. Part of deal was the Aznarans had to turn on Ford. Rathbun’s role in handling the Aznarans when they were trying to leave the cult is also mentioned in the brief.
Ford Greene wrote:
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS For The Ninth Circuit
VICKI J. AZNARAN and RICHARD N. AZNARAN, Plaintiffs, Counterdefendants, and Appellees,
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF CALIFORNIA, Defendant,
CHURCH OF SPIRITUAL TECHNOLOGY, RELIGIOUS TECHNOLOGY CENTER, AUTHOR SERVICES, INC., and CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL, Defendants, Counterclaimants, and Appellants.
On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California
BRIEF FOR APPELLEES
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
A. Nature Of The Case
On April 1, 1988, the Aznarans filed their Complaint below for false imprisonment, fraud, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, loss of consortium, invasion of privacy, conspiracy, breach of contract, restitution, breach of statutory
duty to pay minimum wages and overtime and constructive fraud. The factual basis of the complaint is predicated upon the Aznarans' fifteen years in Scientology.
After successfully disqualifying the Aznarans former counsel, the Scientology defendants answered and all except Author Services, Inc., counterclaimed against the Aznarans.
In the District Court, Scientology has consistently, but unsuccessfully, sought to silence and neutralize the Aznarans by acquiring a judicial finding that the "releases" Scientology alleges the Aznarans signed are valid and enforceable.
B. Factual Background
Vicki J. Aznaran and Richard N. Aznaran are married. Formerly, they were among the highest ranking officials in Scientology. Vicki was the President of Religious Technology Center and Richard was the Chief of Security, Worldwide. For fifteen years they were subjected to fraud, coercive persuasion and exploitation at the hands of Scientology. The Aznarans were subjected to coercive persuasion  by Scientology without their knowledge or consent.
 As defined by the California Supreme Court in 1988, what has been called coercive persuasion, thought reform or "Brainwashing is 'a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas.' [Citation.] The specific methods of indoctrination vary, but the basic theory is that brainwashing 'is fostered through the creation of a controlled environment that heightens the susceptibility of a subject to suggestion and manipulation through sensory deprivation, physiological depletion, cognitive dissonance, peer pressure, and a clear assertion of authority and dominion. The aftermath of indoctrination is a severe impairment of autonomy of the ability to think independently, which induces a subject's unyielding compliance and rupture of past connections, affiliations, and associations." Molko v. Holy Spirit Association [Footnote con't.]
The imposition of such techniques forced them to abandon their identities and submit to Scientology's authority. They were brainwashed by, among other techniques, being hooked up to a lie detector machine, called an "E-Meter," whereby they were coercively indoctrinated with the Scientology's peculiar definitions and meanings of words. This caused them to communicate in a language known only to Scientologists. The result of the indoctrination was blind acceptance of everything that Scientology promulgated, including the dissolution of their marriage. (Record No. 197 at 26, 32-34; Record No. 259, Exhibit B at ¶14.)
Both Aznarans were continuously subjected to techniques of coercive persuasion through which Scientology coercively inculcated them with its ideology and dominated them. Yielding to Scientology's coercion, they were subject to Scientology's domination and almost absolute control. The ideology included the premise that if they dis-affiliated with Scientology, each of them would be deemed a "suppressive person" against whom the "fair game policy" would be employed by Scientology.
[Footnote con't.] (1988) 46 Cal.3d 1092, 1109. Coercive persuasion often results in "serious and sometimes irreversible physical and psychiatric disorders, up to and including schizophrenia, self-mutilation and suicide." Id. 46 Cal.3d at 1118.
 ". . .'[F]air game' was a practice of retribution Scientology threatened to inflict on 'suppressives,' which included people who left the organization or anyone who could pose a threat to the organization. Once someone was identified as a 'suppressive,' all Scientologists were authorized to do anything to 'neutralize' that individual - economically, politically and psychologically." Wollersheim v. Church of Scientology (1989) 212 Cal.App.3d 872, 888. The "fair game policy", to be enforced against "enemies" or "suppressive persons" states that such [Footnote con't]
After 15 years of deception, coercion, exploitation and abuse, Vicki Aznaran found herself in a potentially life-threatening circumstance at the end of March 1987. Having been incarcerated for almost two months under constantly cruel conditions in Scientology's forced-labor camp dubbed "Rehabilitation Project Force" in the California desert near Gilman Hot Springs, Vicki's uterus had become infected. She had been forced to run, not walk, at all times. She was compelled for long hours to perform hard physical labor on a daily basis and sometimes with a jackhammer from 7:00 a.m. until after night fell. She was not allowed adequate sleep or provided adequate food. She was at almost all times guarded by one or two people who constantly watched her, even as she used the bathroom. Additionally, on motorcycles and in jeeps armed security guards patrolled the fenced-in area where Vicki was incarcerated. Letters from Richard Aznaran, her husband, were not delivered and he was prohibited from visiting her.
She was prohibited from reading newspapers or books. At night, she was locked up. Despite her daily requests to see a doctor for her infected uterus and consequential fever, Vicki was denied medical attention. She was in physical pain. (Record No. 197 at 22-25; Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶ 2.)
Terrified, Vicki managed to escape from the forced labor camp in the desert and fled to Hemet, a nearby town.
[Footnote con't] person "[m]ay be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed." Allard v. Church of Scientology (1976) 58 Cal.App.3d 439, 443, fn. 1, 129 Cal.Rptr. 797.
Scientology leader David Miscavige and chief Security Checker, Ray Mithoff summoned Richard to Hemet where they interrogated him until 5:00 a.m. in an effort to get him to divorce Vicki because she was a "suppressive person." Richard could not compromise his loyalty to his wife. He told Miscavige and Mithoff that he would try to salvage Vicki. They sent him to the hotel to talk her into returning to Scientology. (Record No. 197 at 25.)
From April 1, 1987 to April 9, 1987, with an exception of a trip to obtain medical attention for Vicki, Richard and Vicki were held at a hotel in Hemet. They had less than $50 between the two of them. They were surveilled 24 hours per day by plainclothes security guards from a local Scientology church. They were supposed to stay in the hotel room unless they specifically left to eat. Richard felt they were physically restrained from leaving the hotel. The Aznarans were told by Mark Rathbun and Ray Mithoff that they had to remain at the hotel until the Scientology leaders were finished with them and that if they failed to "cooperate" they would be declared to be suppressive persons and subject to the fair game policy. It was reiterated to the Aznarans that the only way to avoid being declared suppressive persons was to "cooperate." (Record No. 197 at 26-29; Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶ 10.)
Vicki and Richard had a plan to leave the control of the Scientologists but only if they could accomplish it without being declared "fair game." When Scientologists left without approval, they were declared "fair game." Over the years, the Aznarans had seen what happened to people who were subjected to the fair game
policy after they had failed to cooperate with Scientology. The Aznarans knew that if they were not "fair game," Scientology would "exercise some kind of restraint, whereas with fair game there would be no restraint." (Record No. 197 at 2 6-29.)
The Scientology security guards held all their personal belongings, including a horse and two dogs, so as to further ensure the Aznarans' cooperation. Vicki knew of others in the past whose belongings and pets were possessed by Scientology as they were leaving the organization. When such people had not "cooperated", their pets were given away and belongings destroyed. (Record No. 197 at 26; Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶ 5.)
While in the hotel room, Mark Rathbun and Ray Mithoff for hours at a time subjected both Richard and Vicki to "security checking" and "interviews." Security checking is a form of interrogation employing the E-Meter lie detector. Security checking was a tool of thought reform and control employed by Scientology. Ray Mithoff was the highest trained and most senior security checker in all Scientology. During the time the Aznarans were confined to the hotel room, one of them would be getting security checked while the other was being interviewed by Mark Rathbun. (Record No. 197 at 28-29; Record No. 259, Exhibit B ¶¶ 3, 3A.)
During the course of the hours of security checking, Richard was reminded how powerful Scientology was and the type of command it could bring to bear upon him should he fail to cooperate fully. Much of the security checking interrogation was directed toward the reasons that the Aznarans wanted to leave Scientology. Specific
attention was paid to whether either of them harbored a secret motive for wanting to leave, whether they were going to go to the government with information concerning crimes being committed by Scientologists or their agents, give testimony or otherwise make information public that Scientology wanted kept secret. (Record No. 197 at 22-32; Record. No. 259, Exhibit B at f 6; Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶ 2.) Particular attention was also paid to interrogating the Aznarans on how much they knew about Scientology so the threat of their leaving could be analyzed. It was intimidating to be security checked by Ray Mithoff and the Aznarans "were in terrible fear that [they] would not be allowed to leave." (Record. No. 259, Exhibit B at ¶ 3.)
The releases were not negotiated at all. (Record No. 259, Exhibit D ¶ 7.)
The Aznarans never requested any "loan" from Scientology. (Record No. 259, Exhibit A at ¶ 5.)
A few days before the Aznarans were allowed to leave the hotel, top Scientology leader, David Miscavige, came and spoke with them. In response to Miscavige's inquiry as to their future plans, Richard told him that they had no specific plans, but intended to stay in Southern California and work something out. Miscavige was adamant that he wanted the Aznarans to "leave Southern California" and avoid contact with people they knew, but wanted them to go to Texas. Richard told him that as he had little money, he and Vicki would have to stay in California long enough to sell their horse and make some money to finance the trip. The following day, at
Miscavige's request, Mark Rathbun suggested to Richard that Scientology purchase the horse from him as well as loan him some money so that he and Vicki could leave immediately for Texas. The Aznarans never requested any loan from Scientology. However, they were told that the reason for the loan was to keep them "out of enemy hands" and to ensure they would not be easy "prey" to those opposed to Scientology. Rathbun's offer to purchase the horse was for the purpose of expediting our departure from California. Thus, the loan and the purchase of the horse had nothing to do with the releases. Rathbun's statements to the contrary are false. (Record. No. 259, Exhibit B at f 7; Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶ 7; Record No. 197 at 32. Record No. 259, Exhibit A at ¶ 5.) The Scientologists wanted the Aznarans "out of California quickly so we would not be served with any subpoenas in the cases that were going on against them at that time." (Record No. 259, Exhibit D at f 7.) Scientology did not pay $300 more for the horse than had Richard; it paid $300 less. (Record. No. 259, Exhibit B at ¶ 13.)
That Scientology wanted to indemnify Vicki with respect to any lawsuit wherein she might be named was in order to maintain control over her and prevent her from testifying in a hostile manner in any litigation to which Scientology was a party or to any governmental agency. (Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶ 7.) With respect to the ongoing case entitled Stansfield. et al. v. Starkey, et al. wherein Vicki was at that time named as a defendant, Mark Rathbun "specifically brought up the indemnification" and "warned us that we were to contact him should there be any contact concerning this
litigation or any other litigation in which Scientology was involved. The purpose was to protect Scientology's interest however and certainly not ours." (Record No. 259, Exhibit A at ¶ 4b.)
There had been a fire at one of the Scientology ranches where Richard had worked. It destroyed all his belongings concerning which a claim was being negotiated with the insurance company. Rather than wait in California, Richard was -given $1,040.90, the value of his belongings destroyed in the fire. His understanding is that the money would later be reimbursed by the insurance company. (Record No. 259, Exhibit B at ¶ 8; Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶ 7.)
Richard was also paid $387.37 in wages, according to Scientology's rules, that was owed to him for the pay period immediately preceding his departure from Scientology. However, it did not include any compensation for the many hundreds of hours of work he had performed, but been forbidden to include on his time card during the previous 13 months that he had worked for Scientology leader, Norman Starkey. He was supposed to have received minimum wage. (Record No. 259, Exhibit B at f 9; Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶ 7.)
Through earlier contacts as a staff member with Scientology's dirty tricks unit known first as the Guardian's Office and then as the Office of Special Affairs, Richard had seen various policies concerning releases. Releases were to executed by every public and staff Scientologist before and after every single service received. Guardian's Office personnel and Scientology attorney John Peterson
told Richard that the releases were unenforceable and for purposes of deterrence only. (Record. No. 259, Exhibit B at ¶ 5; Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶ 4.)
In order to dis-affiliate with Scientology without being declared "suppressive" and thereby subject to "fair game," the Aznarans did what they were told by the Scientologists. This included signing stacks of documents which they did not, with any care, read. Two of Scientology's attorneys were also present when the Aznarans complied with Scientology's orders and signed the papers whatever papers they were given. Richard said all the releases and other papers were "all handed to me at the same time. I just signed them." (Record No. 197 at 29-30; Record. No. 259, Exhibit B at ¶ 4; Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶ 3.) Vicki said "we were being watched by guards . . . and we were extremely afraid of being declared fair game if we did not cooperate. I was in a very bad physical and mental state and would have signed anything in order to get away." (Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶ 10.)
Neither of the Aznarans "carefully" read the Mutual Releases and Settlement Agreements. (Record No. 259, Exhibit A at ¶ 4a.) Any statements by Mark Rathbun to the contrary are false. (Record No. 259, Exhibit A at ¶ 2.)
At the time Vicki and Richard signed whatever releases where presented to them at the hotel, it was stressed that if they "spoke to government agents about any 'confidential information' [they] had concerning the cult that [they] would be in violation of [their] agreements and that [they] would be sued." Additionally,
they were directed to "withhold information and avoid testimony in any civil litigation where the truth may be harmful to the cult or aid someone else seeking justice." Richard concluded that "with the purpose of the releases including the withholding of information from lawful authorities, [he] certainly did not feel that they could possibly be legal or binding." (Record. No. 259, Exhibit B at ¶ 6.)
The Aznarans did not have the benefit of legal counsel. In fact, it was made clear that they could not seek other counsel. Id. Despite their repeated requests for a copy of the releases over many months following the Aznarans' move to Dallas, Texas, the Aznarans were not provided copies of the papers they had been forced to sign until shortly before the instant lawsuit was filed. (Record. No. 259, Exhibit B at ¶¶ 2B, 4; Record No. 259, Exhibit D at ¶¶ 2, 2A; Record No. 259, Exhibit A at. ¶ 13.)
The Aznarans do not believe that the releases and waivers supplied by Scientology in support of itself in the instant lawsuit were the papers that they signed in the hotel room in Hemet. In fact, what Scientology now asserts as the releases include more pages that what Richard recalls having signed (Record. No. 259, Exhibit B at ¶ 2A; Record No. 259, Exhibit A at. ¶ 11; Record No. 197 at 30-31.)
C. The Substance Of The Releases
The alleged releases in question provide, in part, that the Aznarans would be bound as follows:
To "release, acquit and forever discharge . . . the
CHURCH . . . from any and all claims, demands, damages, actions and causes of action of every kind and nature, known and unknown, from the beginning of time to and including the date hereof." (¶ 3 of Exhibits B [As to Vicki] and C [As to Richard] to Documents Nos. 110, 111, 112 and 124.)
"Never to create or publish or attempt to publish, and/or assist another to create for publication by means of magazine, article, book or other similar form, any writing, or to broadcast, or to assist another to create, write, film or video tape or audio tape, any show, program or movie, concerning [his/her] experiences with the Church of Scientology, or personal or indirectly acquired knowledge or information concerning the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, or any entities or individuals listed in Paragraph 1, above. [Plaintiff] further agrees that [he/she] will maintain strict confidentiality and silence with respect to [his/her] experiences with the Church of Scientology and any knowledge or information [he/she] may have concerning the Church of Scientology . . .." (¶ 6.C. of Exhibits B [As to Vicki] and C [As to Richard] to Documents Nos. 110, 111, 112 and 124.)
To "not voluntarily assist or cooperate with any person adverse to the religion of Scientology in any proceeding against any of the Scientology organizations, or cooperate with any person adverse to any of the organizations, individuals, and entities listed in Paragraph 1 above, in any proceeding against any of the organizations, individuals, or entities listed in Paragraph 1 above. [Plaintiffs] also [agree] [they] will not cooperate in any
manner with any organizations aligned against Scientology and any of the organizations, individuals, and entities listed in Paragraph 1 above, (¶ 6.E. of Exhibits B [As to Vicki] and C [As to Richard] to Documents Nos. 110, 111, 112 and 124.)
Will "not testify or otherwise participate in any other judicial, administrative or legislative proceeding adverse to Scientology or any of the organizations, individuals or entities listed in Paragraph 1 above unless compelled to do so by lawful subpoena or other awful process. Unless required to do so by such subpoena, [plaintiffs] [agree] not to discuss [his/her] experiences or personal or indirectly acquired information concerning the organizations, individuals, or entities listed in Paragraph 1, with anyone other than members of [his/her] immediate family. [Plaintiffs] shall not make [themselves] amenable to service of any such subpoena in a manner which invalidates the intent of this agreement. . ." (f 6.F. of Exhibits B [As to Vicki] and C [As to Richard] to Documents Nos. 110, 111, 112 and 124.)
INTELLIGENCE SPECIALIST TRAINING ROUTINE – TR L
Purpose: To train the student to give a false statement with good TR-1. To train the student to outflow false data effectively.
Commands: Part l “Tell me a lie”.