Subject: Question and answer session with Bob Minton and Steve Hassan at CULTinfo, 3/17/2000, Part 1
Question and answer session with Bob Minton and Steve Hassan at CULTinfo, 3/17/2000, Part 1
Transcribed by Xenubat (Sue M.)
BOB MINTON: Steve and I would be happy to take any questions that anyone has.
STEVE HASSAN (off camera): How did you hear about Lisa McPherson?
BOB MINTON: Well, uh, Lisa--Steve asked about Lisa McPherson.
Anybody who would prefer to write their questions, thatís fine, or you can stand up and ask them openly if you donít have any problems with that.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (off camera):Bob, weíd prefer to have the questions written.
BOB MINTON: Oh, okay.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If thatís okay--
BOB MINTON: Yeah, thatís fine. Well, can I just go with that one?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Sure--
BOB MINTON: --just wanted to ask.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: [???]
BOB MINTON: Yeah. Um, as you know, the--there have been several interesting developments in the Lisa McPherson case. One of the--one of the interesting developments was a couple of months ago. Um, the local Scientologists in Clearwater gave to us the form letter that they were asked to complete by Kendrick Moxon.
He was the one coordinating this thing, who is one of their in-house attorneys who handles, you know, any situation where they need a shady attorney (laughter). Well, Moxon sent out this form letter to Scientologists in Clearwater, said to basically start filling the blanks and sign an affidavit that as a result of the Lisa McPherson case, these, uh, these local Scientologists, their businesses were affected, their relationships with their families was affected, they were being persecuted as a result of the state of Florida prosecuting the Church of Scientology about the death of Lisa McPherson. Well, we got those early on, you know, we know that those things were also delivered to the prosecutor, we posted them on the Internet, um, and sure enough, last week, I guess it was, 200 letters were delivered to the prosecutor from Scientologists who have been damaged severely as a result of the prosecution over Lisa McPherson. So this was all part of the churchís attempt to have the state of Florida drop its, uh, charges against Scientology because of the perse--the religious persecution that is occurring. Well, weíll see what happens on that. Nobody knows what will happen on that but I doubt that theyíre gonna drop their pros--their prosecution of the case.
The--the other thing of significance that happened was that, uh, Joan Wood, the medical examiner, changed her, um--the results of the autopsy. There were four possible causes of death to be listed on that autopsy; they were homicide, suicide, uh, accidental or unexplained. Those were the only four possibilities. Previously the, uh, autopsy report had said, "unexplained". Okay? It was changed to "accidental".
Thatís really all--I mean, the, the, the dehydration question was somewhat put down on the revised autopsy report, but the--in terms of the major cause of death, but all of the tests that have been done subsequently at the request of the Church of Scientology have shown--have upheld the original medical results in terms of analyzing the vitreous fluid. And two subsequent tests were done and both of those were the same or slightly higher than the original tests. So the dehydration factor is still very clear there. You know, Scientology trotted out and called up its medical experts, one of which is a guy named Cyril Wecht, who was responsible for doing the autopsy on the alien in Roswell, New Mexico; you might remember he was also on the O.J. Simpson team. And basically, you can buy any medical opinion you want in this country if youíre prepared to pay a high enough price to get Ďem to look at it the way you want. And sure enough they did this and the medical examiner, after three years of being bombarded by the Church of Scientology and its medical experts, did change the, the opinion. Uh, not significantly, and I donít think itíll affect the criminal case--it certainly wonít affect the civil case.
So, you know, the civil case with any luck will go to trial some time this fall. So (reaching over and taking some notes handed to him) here are some more questions
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Some of those may be for Steve; I didnít know if he was coming in for the conference or not.
BOB MINTON: Okay. All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: [???]
BOB MINTON: Okay. Well, hereís from our, uh, this could be from our psychology friends given the question, but itís a good question: "Why is the Lisa McPherson Trust a for-profit company?" Itís a really good question. The Lisa McPherson Trust is a for-profit corporation in Florida because we do not wish to be transparent in terms of who supports our organization, and thatís the basic reason. You know, we--how, how is it possible for us to make money? We donít even charge people that we help get their money back from the Church of Scientology for it. Itís a pleasure to help them for free. So we donít want our donor list to be visible to the Church of Scientology. The Church of Scientology is already trying in court cases to have us--three times theyíve tried so far--to have us put forward our financials to the Church of Scientologyís attorneys, and it hasnít happened and I doubt that it ever will.
STEVE HASSAN: I should just say that in the first printing of the book regarding [???] its second printing, I err--I made an error and wrote that it was non-profit. So the next printing it will be corrected, lest anybody accuse me of deceptively representing a--or representing the situation. Itís just that time was before you were incorporating I thought it was gonna be non-profit [???]
BOB MINTON: Did you actually make a reference to it and say "non-profit"?
STEVE HASSAN: I did in the footnotes.
BOB MINTON: Oh, I didnít realize that and I actually--
STEVE HASSAN: I did--
BOB MINTON: I didnít realize that--
STEVE HASSAN: Thatís why Iím correcting it publically.
BOB MINTON: Okay--
STEVE HASSAN: My fault, my error.
BOB MINTON: Well, itís my fault, really, because our intentions were to make it a non-profit corporation but then when we got into all the intricacies of that and we saw what the filing requirements were, we decided that a for-profit would be a better way to keep intelligence away from the Church of Scientology.
STEVE HASSAN: Okay, there was also a typo in your e-mail address too. (laughter).
BOB MINTON: (putting his arm around Steveís shoulders) Heís forgiven, all is forgiven! (more laughter)
STEVE HASSAN: The Lisa McPherson Trust, or lisamcpherson.org if you want more information about this case. Thereís a lot more Bob has to say, he supposed everyone knew about the substance of her being held for 17 days, that she repeatedly asked to be let out, wasnít let out, was given all kinds of treatment that they are saying were religious but in fact they were medical, when she was brought to the hospital they bypassed several hospitals. I mean, thereís a lot of factual things here of great concern.
BOB MINTON: Well, I, I would hope that most people here know something about the Lisa McPherson case but one, one interesting aspect of this case is, that Iíve noticed recently, is the prosecutors and their most significant memorandum to the court--um, you know, the Church of Scientology has said all along that this woman was on the, the religious--she was getting religious services. Well, in the deposition that all the Scientologists first gave and then secondly changed after they were given immunity from prosecution that it admitted lying under oath, it now confirmed that Lisa McPherson was not under any sort of religious treatment of any kind. They were just trying to get her on to this Introspection Rundown, but she wasnít able to do any auditing and therefore they couldnít even start her on it, on this thing. So one of the interesting aspects of that is that the Church of Scientology tried to get the court to rule that Scientology was a religion. The court said, you know, "Well, what does that have to do with anything?
We donít wanna--itís not our issue to, to decide whether youíre a religion." And basically Mr. Dandar in the civil case has gone, you know, very hard on this with the help of attorneys in California to basically say that if she wasnít getting any religious services, what does the issue of religion have at all to do with this case? And I think that that will--the judge has seen that that is not a factor here and has declined to rule on that issue at all.
STEVE HASSAN: Okay. See if can use this mike here--
BOB MINTON: Sure.
STEVE HASSAN: Iím not gonna read the entire question because itís very long, but itís what, what can you offer to a family whose son is in a one-on-one domination relationship and such, and the family has tried a lot of different things. Well, one of the--one of the hallmarks of, of my approach that Iím, um, promoting is keeping a [???] approach is create a team of concerned people, whether itís other siblings, cousins, former high school coaches, ministers, whoever, that cares about the person, and educate them and encourage them to create a relationship or start up a relationship again with the individual. Sometimes, especially in small groups or one-on-one groups, uh, the whole family is cut off, but if there was a former co-worker or, or a friend or whatever, I mean, itís not perceiving to be attacking the relationship, something can take place. Um, I try to think very practically about what little steps can be taken to move forward to the goal, and the goal is to help empower people to have a choice and to, to grow and to learn. And, um, sometimes in protracted, in protracted cases, there are protracted cases that go on and on and there seems to be no movement, any movement was some movement. And Iíve actually suggested in some cases for a family member or a friend to approach whoever it is being the influence, whoever is the dominator or the controller, and ask for their help. Um, which is, you know, shocking, because theyíre the ones who are creating the problem. However, typically the person who is doing, doing the controlling, they think theyíre righteous in their control; they think theyíre justified in their control.
And so if, if an approach is made, again it has to be done strategically but if an approach is made to say, "Hey, I know you care about him or her, help us. The family is having counseling, please come to the family counseling. Letís create a dialogue". Something that moves the case forward as opposed to just doing nothing and hoping. The other side of it is is what, thereís call for action and you are intent of being someone who never had a cult problem yourself but you saw the, the destruction--
BOB MINTON: Iíve got one down in mind (laughter)
STEVE HASSAN: But, I saw the destruction, Iíve gotta do something about this and I can do something about it and therefore I will do something about it. Every cult member you ever meet is somebodyís son or daughter, is somebodyís brother or sister. Somewhere. And some family somewhere else in the world, maybe itís, uh, a Japanese family whose loved one was shipped over to the U.S. 20 years ago and, uh, and theyíre now inviting you to come to a Unification event--theyíre somebodyís daughter. And you have a chance to talk to them at least--whatever moment you have, make a connection, let them know that the outside world isnít evil and everyone isnít against them, and talk with them and ask them about them, what they want and what their hopes and their dreams are. And, and do something that can create a bridge. And Iím hoping also for those families who are, donít know where their kids are and they havenít for years--with the Internet we can post pictures and we can keep our eye out; especially some, some of these cults where their names are changed and they disappear, the Garbage Eaters and such, the Jim Roberts group. We can try to create networks of people who are concerned, that are willing to make an effort to reach out and help. Those are a few problems [???].