Is Scientology breaking the law?

Allegations of illegal imprisonment, extortion, and fraud by Scientology

excerpted from

Emphasis added in red . Editorial comments, when added, are in purple .



Akron Beacon Journal, January 21, 1990
by Richard Weizel, Beacon Journal business writer
(c) 1995 Akron Beacon Journal. All rts. reserv.

During a five-month period in 1988, Bob and Dorothy Geary paid $200,000 to the Church of Scientology to gain spiritual perfection.

Instead, they say, they nearly lost their minds.

A Medina dentist, Geary said he also nearly lost his 5-year-old practice,and his wife wound up requiring hospitalization after allegedly being held captive for more than two weeks by Scientologists in California.

The Gearys say that they have recovered about half the money paid to the Scientologists. But, they said, they rejected a $44,000 cash settlement offered last month by the church, because it would have required them to remain silent .

A spokesman for the church's San Francisco mission, August Murphy, did not dispute that Mrs. Geary was taken by Scientologists to a cabin in California in the fall of 1988. And he agreed that the church had made a cash settlement offer to the Gearys, because it was church policy to 'return donations' when members choose to leave.

Many, many ex-members have described experiencing considerable difficulty in obtaining promised refunds. Does the "church policy" that calls for returning "donations" also stipulate that the refunded "donation" requires that the person receiving the refund promise to remain silent about his or her experiences?

He denied, though, that Mrs. Geary was ever held against her will and said, 'We would love to resolve things with the Gearys and work out these differences. We made them an offer, but they rejected it.'

Instead, Geary has begun to speak out. Recently, he addressed a group of health professionals in Michigan about his family's experience, which began at a free seminar offered by Sterling Management Systems.

The Gearys say their involvement with Scientology began when Bob Geary attended a three-hour Sterling seminar in May 1988 at the Cleveland Marriott hotel. After the seminar, Geary said, he was given a personality profile and told he needed further seminars to improve his practice.

In early September Mrs. Geary came back to Medina for a brief time, but describes feeling 'weird' and out of place. She was by this time having hallucinations, according to family doctor W. Denny Robertson, and appeared to her friends and family to be unstable.

A week later, Mrs. Geary said, she returned to San Francisco for further auditing procedures that she hoped would clear her confusion.

Mrs. Geary says she was met at the airport by Scientologists who 'drove me around in a car for hours and hours,' and then held her captive for more than two weeks in a cabin near Mount Shasta to correct behavior that could harm the organization.

'All we tried to do is help Mrs. Geary with counseling procedures,' said Murphy. He declined to allow the Beacon Journal to speak with any of the three Scientologists Mrs. Geary has named as her captors.

Murphy said that Mrs. Geary had a pre-existing mental condition that the group was trying to correct and that the couple had agreed that she have the treatment. He also alleged that Mrs. Geary's family has a history of schizophrenia.

Does this statement indicate that the Scientologists were practicing psychiatry - medicine - without a license? What were their qualifications, and under what legal oversight, were they authorized to hold a mental patient in captivity?

What evidence does Murphy or Scientology have of Mrs. Geary's pre-existing mental condition or her family's alleged history of schizophrenia? Are there medical records anywhere to back this up, or is this just an ugly attempt to discredit Mrs. Geary?

The Gearys, their psychiatrist, Dr. Myung Kwak, and their family physician, Dr. Robertson, deny that allegation.

'There was never anything wrong with her until she got involved with the Scientologists,' said Robertson.

Kwak agreed. 'I don't believe Mrs. Geary had any previous history of mental illness,' she said.

The Gearys say the result of her captivity was devastating. Mrs. Geary said she was a victim of sleep and food deprivation and was pushed against walls and onto a bed when she protested and demanded to be set free.

'I tried to escape from the cabin several times, but they wouldn't let me leave,' she said. 'They just kept saying they wanted us to give them more money and that I needed to be alone.'

Do either of the above statements sound like a description of a suitable care program for a mental patient?

When Mrs. Geary returned, she required a week of hospitalization at Akron General Medical Center, according to Kwak and Robertson. Friends also say she had a bald spot on her head and had lost 20 pounds.

'She was skin and bones and had skinned elbows,' said longtime friend and neighbor Elaine Lamb, wife of former Medina Mayor William Lamb.


The Beacon Journal submitted a list of questions in writing to both the Church of Scientology's San Francisco mission and to Sterling Management that have not been answered. Murphy declined to answer many questions during telephone interviews.

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