Scientology's legal and extra-legal threats against Netizens

This page created by Ron Newman.
Last revised Sunday, March 3, 1996.

A worldwide "Stop the Harassment, Scientology" demonstration will occur on March 9. Follow this link for more details!

Jeff Jacobsen has produced a 1995 timeline of Scientology harassment of a.r.s. anti-Scientologists. It now contains hyperlinks to many documents describing the incidents listed in the timeline. Updated March 3, 1996.

`Rogue Agent' loses his account, then says goodbye

`Rogue Agent', a well known pseudonymous poster to alt.religion.scientology, has fallen victim to a covert private investigation by the Church of Scientology. In December, 1995, he lost his computer account at Northeastern University in Boston after the church's Office of Special Affairs faxed a 9-page complaint to the university's in-house lawyer. The university recognized the Church's complaint as groundless, but required that Rogue either reveal his identity to Northeastern officials or lose the account. Rogue chose the latter option.

Rogue continued posting from a non-University account for about two more months, but on February 3, 1996, he abruptly said goodbye. For more information, follow this link to a separate page about Rogue Agent.

`henry' loses his job

Another well known a.r.s poster, whose True Name is Rob Clark but who posts under the pseudonym `henry', lost his job at Accu-Weather in State College, Pennsylvania on October 4, 1995 after Scientology's notorious private investigator, Eugene Ingram, visited his city's police and his employer. For more information, follow this link to a separate page about `henry'.


[Editor's note: I have not revised this section since the summer of 1995. I hope to completely reorgnize it early in 1996. For a more organized approach, now containing many useful hyperlinks, see the 1995 timeline of Scientology harassment of a.r.s. anti-Scientologists, compiled by Jeff Jacobsen.]

The Church of Scientology's lawyer, Helena Kobrin, has sent intimidating electronic mail to a number of netizens, including Martin Hunt, Nico Garcia, Grady Ward, and Daniel Davidson. Grady wrote a strongly-worded reply to Helena's bullying letter. I used to keep close track of Helena's letters, but she sent so many during July 1995 (probably over 50!) that I stopped including new ones here. Some of the people she harassed had posted only six lines of alleged "Scientology trade secrets". On August 17, 1995, she actually posted a threatening letter addressed to all readers of alt.religion.scientology!

Damon Chetson e-mailed a letter to Helena asking her to verify whether several "parodies" he had received in anonymous e-mail were actually copyrighted scriptures belonging to the Church. Helena sent Damon a reply which confirmed that most of the documents were copyrighted (fair enough) but then went on to threaten Damon with a lawsuit!

Daniel Davidson is a student at San Francisco State University in California. Because of Helena's complaint, SFSU's director of computing services, John True, filed a disciplinary charge against Davidson. Davidson was required to appear at a disciplinary hearing on March 31, 1995 He explained his predicament in a series of Usenet messages. Fortunately, Davidson was exonerated of all charges. This was partly due to the good work of Netizens throughout the world, who sent numerous e-mails and faxes to San Francisco State University officials explaining why Helena's groundless complaint should not be a cause for punitive action by the University. One of the best such letters was sent by Bruce Tober, a reporter for the UK magazine Internet and Comms Today.

Threats from Helena also caused the University of Bristol, in England, to suspend the account and web page of Martin Poulter for several days. Like San Francisco State, Bristol soon realized that Helena's threats were groundless. Helena also tried to browbeat the University of Southern Florida into removing the account of a.r.s. participant Maggie Council, but USF told Helena to just go away.

Helena even tried to threaten a system administrator in mainland China for keeping a copy of the Fishman Papers on his open FTP server. (He eventually removed them anyway, because demand for the documents was swamping his bandwidth and impeding Internet access for all of China.)

While Helena Kobrin specializes in sending threatening e-mail, at least one other Church-related lawyer has resorted instead to old-fashioned snail-mail. Shelley Thomson, editor of **Biased Journalism**, reported receiving a legal threat from lawyer Elliot J. Abelson, who lists an address on "Avenue of the Stars" in Los Angeles.

Not all the harassment has come from lawyers. Bob "Sloth" Bingham received an ominous e-mail note from a known Scientologist, informing him that his Web page had been "reported" to the Church's Office of Special Affairs (intelligence unit).

The Church's private investigator, Eugene Ingram, visited Jeff Jacobsen, and also dropped in on Jeff's sister and his neighbor's 13-year-old son. Private investigators again lurked near Jeff's house on May 1st, 1995. Someone called the long distance phone companies of Jeff Jacobsen, Homer Smith, and Grady Ward, impersonating each of them to try to obtain logs of their long-distance calls. A policeman visited Martin Hunt, asking about messages he allegedly posted to alt.religion.scientology.

In November 1994, Arnie Lerma received both an unannounced visit and a threatening anonymous fax.

In Oklahoma, TarlaStar got a phone call from someone falsely claiming to represent her Internet Service Provider. A few days later, two Church of Scientology representatives posted her real first and last name, her address, her phone number, and her husband's name to alt.religion.scientology.

On April 15, two Scientologists paid Grady Ward an unannounced personal visit. This link contains both Grady's story and a counter-story from Scientologist "Chris Miller", who seems to have some kind of inside connection with Scientology's Office of Special Affairs.

On May 8, Grady's publisher received a threatening and slanderous phone call from a man identifying himself as Gene Ingram, who is a private investigator for the Church of Scientology. On May 10, a very inquisitive stranger, calling himself "Jack Hoff", visited Grady's 74-year-old mother in Tacoma, Washington.. Grady's mom later identified Mr. "Hoff" positively as Eugene Ingram, with help from this photo, taken by Jeff Jacobsen. As a result, the Tacoma Police Department has filed criminal case #95-1530374 against Ingram, on the charge of criminal impersonation. In early August, someone obtained Grady's long-distance phone bill records by impersonating him in calls to both AT&T and Pacific Bell.

Gary Reibert, who had only posted two messages to alt.religion.scientology, experienced a variety of disturbing events: his car was tailed, someone phoned him to do a survey in which "not participating is not an option", and somone else impersonated him in a phone call to his gas company, falsely reporting damage to his line.

Finally, someone claming to be both a Scientologist and an MIT alumnus sent this complaint to the MIT webmaster during the spring of 1995, when this page still lived at MIT. (Unfortunately, a bug in MIT's comment gateway truncated the message.) The MIT webmaster sent him this reply. (For the record, MIT did remove my access in late June of 1995, but this was part of a general housecleaning of several thousand accounts belonging to people who, like me, were no longer formally affiliated with the university.)

Jim Lippard has created a web page containing pictures of Eugene Ingram and other Scientology private investigators. The page also contains the details of the warrant for Ingram's arrest in Tampa, Florida, on charges of impersonating a police officer.

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Ron Newman <>