Cult Awareness Network
December 28, 1997
takeover of CAN is the subject of this broadcast.
Stacy Brooks is one of those interviewed.
show can be viewed at Anti-Cult's
of video in italics. VO=Voiceover of Lesley Stahl.
LESLEY STAHL (in studio): There was a time if
you were worried about your son or daughter being
in a cult, you could get help from a small, non-profit
organization called the Cult Awareness Network,
or CAN, for 20 years the nation's best-known resource
for information and advice about groups it considered
dangerous. Among them was Scientology, a church
not known for turning the other cheek. But church
officials say Scientology is just another tax-exempt
religion that helps millions of people worldwide,
including actors John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
And while Scientology did attack its enemies in
the past, church officials say they don't do that
anymore. But recently, the Cult Awareness Network
was forced into bankruptcy, and its leaders blame
the Church of Scientology.
Today, CAN is under new management.
(answering phone): Hello, Cult Awareness Network.
Now, when you call looking for information about
a cult, chances are the person you're talking
to is a Scientologist.
at CAN office
Ashley's one; so is Bob. Everyone we met in the
office was a Scientologist. Last year, a member
of the church bought CAN's name, logo, and hotline
number in bankruptcy court for $20,000.
YOUNG: This is a dream come true for Scientology.
VO: Stacy Young would know. She was a member of
the church for 15 years, including its elite Sea
Organization. She also worked in the Office of
Special Affairs, and was managing editor of its
Young at her computer, cat jumping down on the
She left in 1989, and has been a paid consultant
in lawsuits against Scientology.
The Cult Awareness Network was the only organization
in the country where parents could call and say,
you know, "Ive lost my child into this
cult. What do I do?"
She says Scientology sets out to destroy anyone
who criticizes it.
Someone who speaks publicly against Scientology
is targeted for a campaign of harassment, character
assassination, financial ruin. There's a policy
that says, specifically, "If possible, ruin
She is talking about a church directive-- this
one-- the "Fair Game" law, that says
a person or group that publicly criticizes the
church is "fair game," and can be "destroyed."
Stacy Young and others do not believe the church
when it says it no longer harasses its enemies.
(in front of Scientology building, by sign saying
"Can you increase confidence and self respect?"):
Now, the church says, Scientology, originally
known as Dianetics, is a benevolent religion,
with anti-drug programs and literacy projects
that helps its followers increase their confidence.
backs up to show rest of the sign--on top of the
sign is a picture of the "Dianetics"
A central doctrine goes like this: 75 million
years ago, a tyrant named Xenu transported people
from outer space to Earth, dropped them in volcanoes,
then exploded hydrogen bombs on them. That experience
is the root of all human misery today.
Scientology offers to help people overcome that
misery, charging as much as $50,000 in a year.
It's one of the reasons why "Time" magazine
calls Scientology "The cult of greed."
VO: One of "Times" principal sources
was Cynthia Kisser, who was CAN's executive director.
You said, "Scientology is quite likely the
most ruthless, the most classically terroristic,
the most litigious, and the most lucrative cult
the country has ever seen." Whoa, that was
very powerful. Do you stand by that?
Oh, more than ever, more than ever. I mean, everything
they've done since then just proves that quote.
VO: Cynthia Kisser says a Fair Game attack on
CAN started in the 1980's, and Stacy Young says
she was part of it.
Some of the staff who were assigned to the Cult
Awareness Network would brief us about...
You mean there were people specifically assigned?
Oh, yes, that was their whole job. that was all
Was CAN, that's right. And so, our whole orientation
was, well, what have you done this week to get
rid of CAN, and how, how well have you done to
discredit the leaders of CAN? How much progress
have you made on disrupting this group?
of Scieno picketers with signs saying "CAN
is a hate group", "No more hate, no
more riots", "Stop hate mongering in
Los Angeles, dont support CAN", "CAN
kidnappers get out of LA", Stop Religious
Hate Crimes, Stop Ku Klux CAN".
To do it, she says the church used picketers at
CANs conventions, and waged smear campaigns.
VO: Attorney Kendrick Moxon does most of the church's
legal work, and he is a devout Scientologist.
We are told, Mr. Moxon, that a small army of private
investigators was hired by your law firm to go
out and dig up dirt on members of CANCynthia
Kisser specificallyand anything else they
could find. Is that true?
No, its not true.
Now, a lot of lawyers hire private eyes to dig
up dirt on people. I mean, now, we were even hearing...
I don't know. I know... I've heard that people
do that, and I know that the media does that,
but I don't know that a lot of lawyers do that.
I don't do that.
He acknowledges using private detectives, but
not for the purpose of digging up dirt.
of detective permit for Michael Shomers
But former private eye Michael Shomers says Moxon's
law firm hired him to do just that.
Find the sleaze--to find the hidden alcoholism,
to find the hidden drug abuse, if that was the
The sex life?
The sex lives.
org in Washington D.C., handwritten notes about
Cynthia Kisser and other CAN memberssome
excerpts include "loose cannon?" "rude,
crudeacolholic?". "Con. Waxman",
"Cynthia Kisser" are highlighted.
He says he got his marching orders during a meeting
right in the Scientology Church in Washington,
D.C. He says a staffer briefed him on CAN, and
jotted down notes that Shomers kept. He says he
was told to investigate CAN and its purported
allies: I.R.S. officials, and Congressman Henry
Waxman of California. And he was told to dig up
enough dirt on Cynthia Kisser to destroy her reputation
and intimidate her into silence.
highlighted part of notes: "Topless dancer
at Blue Note (15 years)
It says "Topless dancer at the Blue Note
in Tucson, Arizona. Cynthia Kisser."
So, did you investigate that?
Yes, I did.
Was she a topless dancer?
Did you tell the Church of Scientology--
Yes, I did--
...That these were...these allegations were not
I don't know if she's a topless dancer or not.
Did you tell our producer that you didn't believe
that was true?
I told your producer that I thought, looking at
Cynthia Kisser, it seemed improbable that she
could have been a topless dancer because of the
way she looks.
walking down hall
Yet despite his own view and the evidence from
investigator Shomers, Moxon, also a minister in
the church, persisted in bringing it up.
I mean, that... we got a declaration already indicating
that she had been a topless dancer.
I can't believe you are continuing to talk about
her being a topless dancer.
Why? That was one of the allegations.
But you've even said you don't even think she
was one. That's character assassination.
I don't--Lesley, there's a declaration from a
woman swearing that she was a topless dancer.
Were you a topless dancer?
No. And later, the person that they claimed told
them that retracted it, issued a retraction, saying
that it wasn't true.
of "Freedom" magazine, anti-CAN Scieno
Kisser says Scientology also used its publications
to label CAN a criminal outfit, and then contacted
police and members of Congress with specific charges.
President of the Church of Scientology, Reverend
Heber Jentzsch, repeated the accusations to us.
Kidnapping people, holding them against their
will, beating up on people, pistol whipping, safe
houses where they hold people against their will,
rape of their victims, that sort of thing.
(in office): Jentzsch accuses CAN of kidnapping
people out of cults and then trying to deprogram
them. Defenders of the practice call them "rescues,"
which are perfectly legal when they involve youngsters
under 18. But Scientology says CAN was involved
in illegal deprogramming of adults, and they sent
us reams of documents they say are examples, including
the sworn declaration of a former deprogrammer
named Mark Blocksom.
and Jentzsch sitting together
I've got it right here.
Mark Blocksom said he was involved in a number
of...of kidnappings. He said he was involved in
one with Cynthia Kisser, where he actually worked
for CAN. He got... he got many referrals from
CAN. He said most of his referrals were from CAN.
Blocksom walking down sidewalk
So we tracked down Mark Blocksom and asked him
How would you describe that sworn declaration
It's embellished, to say the least. It's notits
Yes, I did.
Why did you lie?
I saw it as a means to maybe get... support my
walking down sidewalk
He says he was a drug addict when he signed that
declaration five years ago after he was approached
by one of Moxon's private detectives. Blocksom
maintains there was an implied promise of money,
which never materialized, if he could implicate
CAN and Kisser in illegal deprogramming. Clean
and sober now, Blocksom wants to set the record
Well, I spoke with Kendrick Moxon not long ago.
Did you tell you had lied?
Yes, and it irritates me that they persist in
using this statement as a propaganda tool to support
their position about Cult Awareness Network.
(in office): But the church accuses CAN of coercing
Blocksom's change of testimony. For its part,
CAN says that while it did permit deprogrammers
to attend its conventions, it was never involved
in illegal deprogramming, and in fact, CAN was
never charged with a crime
Even Michael Shomers, the church's own investigator,
couldn't find any evidence of one.
Did you ever find that they were deprogramming
people, or involved in that?
Never heard anybody at any meeting at any time.
Ever mention deprogramming.
So when you sent your reports in into the Church
of Scientology, were they disappointed with you?
Yes, they were. They just keep on going. There
had to be something. They knew that there just
had to be something, but there simply wasn't anything.
Kisser, picture of bunch of letters sent by Scienos
to CAN, including "Model Letter" with
"(to be put in own words)" hand written
Cynthia Kisser says the church's final assault
on CAN began when hundreds of Scientologists from
around the country wrote virtually identical letters
asking to become members of CAN. Included among
them was this model letter with instruction "to
be put in your own words." Fearing, she says,
the church was out to take control of CAN, Kisser
denied their applications to join.
CAN was then hit with a barrage of lawsuits by
individual Scientologists, claiming religious
I got hit with 12 suits in one week. I would open
the door, a process server would give me a suit.
They were suing us all over the country, sometimes
titled "Scientology-related cases CAN and
members have faced" with the lists of plaintiffs,
defendants, and jurisdictions
In all, CAN was hit with more than 50 lawsuits.
Even though most of the suits were eventually
dropped or won by CAN, she says the cost of defending
them, nearly $2 million, drove CAN to the brink
Would you concede, Reverend Jentzsch, that at
least part of the motivation for the lawsuits
was to get CAN, was to silence them?
I would say that the individuals who were involved
definitely wanted to do something about CAN. What
are you going to do when they're trying to destroy
you? Look, if you're a Jew--
Youre saying nothing--
If you're... if you're... if you're a Jew, no...
no Jew is going to cry about the fact that the
Nazi Party is gone. If you're an African-American,
no one is going to cry that the KKK is gone. I
am not crying because CAN is gone, OK? They were
a vicious group--
Thats not my question--
They tried to destroy us.
My question is, would you concede that at least
part of what happened with those lawsuits was
a deliberate attempt to harass and intimidate
them into silence?
No, absolutely not.
Well, you're not going to make us believe that
there were these 30 or 50 lawsuits that's... all
sprang up, you know, just serendipitously. There
They didnt--they didnt spring up serendipitously.
A number of Scientologists came to our firm and
said, "I'm being discriminated against by
CAN." We have these complaints--
In the computer.
Who was telling them to try to join?
Nob--Oh, who was telling them to try to join CAN
in the first place?
I don't know. It was a kind of a grass-roots movement
of Scientologists that wanted to go to CAN and
dialogue with them.
50 people all across the country suddenly all
decided in unison, "We need to sue CAN."
I don't think so. This is not the way it works.
VO: Stacy Young says she sat in on staff meetings
where the litigation campaign against CAN was
Once they put CAN in their sights with regard
to litigation, it was only a matter of time before
they were gonna find a case that they could use
to put them out of business.
VO: That case came in the person of Jason Scott,
an 18-yr-old member not of Scientology, but of
a fringe Pentecostal church in Bellevue, Washington.
One of CAN's volunteers referred Jason's mother
to a deprogrammer, who kidnapped Jason.
Stahl and Jason Scott walking down sidewalk
CAN was never charged in the case, and the deprogrammer
who was, was acquitted. Jason says a lawyer in
Moxon's firm then recommended that he file a civil
Hes like, "This thing is worth millions.
Lets get em."
Did they specifically say that you should sue
Mm-hmm. Oh, yes. That was, that was the kicker,
is CAN. "We've got to get CAN involved."
(in office): So Jason sued. Kendrick Moxon was
his lawyer. And despite CAN's insistence that
it had nothing to do with illegal deprogramming,
the jury disagreed, so did the judge, and the
$1.8 million CAN was ordered to pay Jason forced
it into bankruptcy.
with headline "Washington man awarded judgement
against CAN, other defendants", CAN newsletter
with headline "Cult Awareness Network files
Chapter Seven Bankruptcy/ceases daily operations"
(answering phone): Hello, Cult Awareness Network.
And that's why, when you visit CAN's new headquarters
in Hollywood, you can find out about all the good
things the Church is doing.
CAN pamphlets: "Facts about deprogramming:
A stain on our heritage of religious tolerance",
"A novel approach: How to bring family and
friends back together", and "Fact vs.
Fiction: Scientology: the inside story at last"
(in studio): Since Stacy Young began speaking
out, she believes the church has waged a "fair
game" attack against her, including what
she calls attempts to sabotage her business, a
small non-profit animal sanctuary in Seattle.
The Church denies it. We, on the other hand, deny
the Churchs accusation that we have a conflict
of interest in this story because producer Richard
Bonin has an aunt whos a lawyer involved
in litigation against the Church. Though thats
true, our producers Aunt Lita had nothing
to do with our story.
courtesy of Xenubat