the STATE of ILLINOIS V. MARK BUNKER
Scientology had Mark arrested by off duty Chicago police officers
while Mark attempted to conduct a video interview by two dentists
who had been defrauded by Scientology to the tune of $100,000.
The dentists had been trying for two years to recieve a refund
of $20,000 for Scientology courses they had never taken. Scientology
refused to give them the refund. After the dentists contacted
the Lisa McPherson Trust, it was arranged that Mark would fly
up to Chicago to conduct an interview so the couple could share
The Chicago Police Department had helped arrange a meeting between
the dentists and the Chicago Scientology Org on the evening of
January 25, 2000. Mark went along to videotape a brief interview
with the couple before and after their meeting.
||When they arrived at the Chicago Org, two off-duty
officers, dressed in black leather jackets, ran out of the
front door of the Org. They raced past the dentists and grabbed
Mark by his arms. Within seconds, they had arrested
Mark for trespassing even though Mark was on a public
sidewalk the entire time.
After being placed handcuffed into the back of a squad car, Mark
spent four hours in a jail cell at the Belmont and Western precinct
until released on $75 bail. When Mark reclaimed his possessions
from the police, everything was returned except his videocamera
which had been placed into property lockup and supposedly shipped
to another location.
The following day, Mark returned to get his camera and was sent
from one location to the next before finding it back at the Belmont
and Western precinct. When the camera was finally returned from
the police lockup, the videotape had been removed from the camera.
Although official requests were filed to protect the videotape
as evidence, the tape was never recovered.
The State tried to place the blame for the disappearing tape
on Mark or the dentists but the camera, which recorded the entire
event and arrest, was running and recording as the police took
it into their possession.
By the time Mark returned to Clearwater, Florida, Scientologist
PR representatives Pat Jones and Al Buttnor had been showing Mark's
mugshot from the arrest to neighboring businesses, warning them
that Mark was a criminal.
Scientology assigned Elliot Abelson, one of their top attorneys,
to handle the case. He flew to Chicago repeatedly to hold meetings
with the state attorney. He provided them with enough "Dead
Agent" material to at one point convince them to add charges
of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and battery against a
police officer and to treat the incident as a hate crime.
By the time the case went to trial it was once again a simple
misdemeanor trespassing charge. Most such cases are thrown out
as being too trivial to try in court or the defendant chooses
to plea guilty for a small fine but Scientology put enough pressure
on the State that they took it to trial.
Mark fought the charge and, in the end, won the trial. It took
over a year for it to get to court and cost a lot of time, money
and energy to prevail but it brought out into the open the tactics
Scientology will use in an attempt to prove that their critics
In the end it took just 25 minutes for the jury to find Mark