“Confidential” PC folders

If you have ever been a staff member who has sat in on some executive meetings, or gone through the sign-in cards at an event and discussed who to reg for what, you will be very familiar with the natter sessions that can go on regarding the public.

And if you are a public and are not aware of such, well, that is what happens.

Have you ever wondered about what is said about you when you leave staff? And what about all that “confidential” data you gave in session? Well, I’ve heard your “confidential” PC data given out during executive meetings, and seen in used against you in Committee’s of Evidence. And I’ve seen it used to smear the names of people who don’t give the org’s what they want.

Other people have been witness to these things too. Here are some of them:


Larry Brennan

Larry Brennan, who left the church staff in 1984 and spent a total of $400,000 US on auditing courses, recalls David Miscavige having a particular enmity for Gerry Armstrong.

“He really hated Gerry,” he recalls. Brennan says Miscavige would mock the now defected Armstrong in front of staff, using the most personal confessions of Armstrong’s own auditing files to cast him in the worst possible light. […]

Donna Shannon: My personal “wake up call”

I saw that the public were ridiculed, to some extent. Their [auditing] sessions were videotaped, their overts and withholds publicly discussed in the HGC. This is contrary to the “priest/penitent confidentiality” that is supposedly there.

Jason Beghe

“Not one auditing session—which are supposed to be private—is not recorded on film,” he says, and claims that secret cameras are used at every session at the Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles, recording sessions that for Scientologists are supposed to be something like confessionals in the Catholic church.

“Will Smith is supposedly dabbling in Scientology. Let Will Smith know that his shit was fucking recorded. And tell him to look them in the eye and see if he believes it when they deny it.”

Even worse, he says, is that behind the backs of celebrities, Scientology officials gossip about what transpires in those supposedly private sessions. “Everything’s supposed to be confidential. But all they do is chat about it,” he says. […]


Affidavit of Jesse Prince (20 August 1999)

23. Members of Scientology are induced to confess to acts that, if not outright criminal, are embarrassing or possibly destructive to the person’s job, marriage or profession. For example, shoplifting, adultery, masturbation, homosexuality,  drug abuse, or any other potentially embarrassing or illegal matters are recorded.  Members are urged to write down these compromising facts in their own handwriting, under the guise that it is a “religious confessional” for the member’s good.  The truth is that these “confessions” are kept to blackmail and extort members should they dare to speak out against Scientology. Members are also coerced to sign documents that are self-damaging in order to protect Scientology in case they dare to leave its control and speak the damaging truth.  I know all this to be true, because I watched this done to others; I did it to others; and it was done to me.

Sunday Times (Oct. 1984): “Sinking the Master Mariner” by John Barnes

But perhaps the most fascinating testimony at the trial came from a former Scientology intelligence officer who explained how the Church used confidential information from “auditing” files to blackmail members, a practice the Church has often denied.

Affidavit of Jesse Prince (27 July 1998)

5. Members of Scientology are induced to confess to acts that, if not outright criminal, are embarrassing or possibly destructive to the person’s job, marriage or profession, for example, shoplifting, adultery, masturbation, or drug abuse. The member is urged to write these down in their own handwriting, under the guise that it is a “religious confessional” for the member’s good. The truth is that these “confessions” are kept to blackmail and extort the member should they dare to speak out. The member is also coerced to sign documents that are self-damaging while protecting the organization, solely in case the member dares to leave their control and speak the truth. I know because I watched this done to others, I did it to others and it was done to me. That is why I respectfully urge this court to recognize Scientology’s tactics and treat them for what they are: criminal deceit to defraud this court at any cost.

Affidavit of Margery Wakefield (23 June 1993)

14.  In another project in this same time frame, I was assigned the task of going through witness Michael Meisner’s supposedly confidential preclear files and similarly tabbing any incidences of sexual irregularities, drug use, or criminal conduct to be used against him.

Time (1991): “Scientology: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power” by Richard Behar

Screen star Travolta, 37, has long served as an unofficial Scientology spokesman, even though he told a magazine in 1983 that he was opposed to the church’s management. High-level defectors claim that Travolta has long feared that if he defected, details of his sexual life would be made public. “He felt pretty intimidated about this getting out and told me so,” recalls William Franks, the church’s former chairman of the board. “There were no outright threats made, but it was implicit. If you leave, they immediately start digging up everything.” Franks was driven out in 1981 after attempting to reform the church.

Los Angeles Times (June 1990): “The Scientology Story: On the Offensive Against an Array of Suspected Foes”

[…] So consumed are some Scientologists by their zeal to punish foes that they have violated the confidentiality of one of the religion’s most sacred practices, according to a number of former members.

These former members accuse others in the church of culling confessional folders for information that can be used to embarrass, discredit or blackmail hostile defectors–a practice once called “repugnant and outrageous” by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. Some of these former members say they themselves took part in the practice.

The confidential folders contain the parishioners’ most intimate secrets, disclosed during one-on-one counseling sessions that are supposed to help devotees unburden their spirits. The church retains the folders even after a member leaves.

Last year, former church attorney Yanny said in a sworn declaration that he was fed information from confessional folders to help him question former members during pretrial proceedings. Yanny said he complained but was informed by two Scientology executives that it was “standard practice.” […]

Affidavit of Howard “Homer” Schomer (18 March 1986)

The trust in one’s auditor and the confidentiality of the sessions was a critical element for me and one which I believe in. I later learned that auditing is not confidential and that frequently members auditing files [handwritten: folders] are culled for sensitive information to be used to blackmail or intimidate a person who threatens the Organization in any way. This includes attempting to leave the Organization. I personally was present when members of the Guardian’s Office would “cull” files and look for sensitive information. Many of my B-1 friends related stories of culling auditing files to me.

Final Report to the Clearwater City Commission

Evidentiary Fact:

S. The Church of Scientology wrongfully and maliciously divulges personal and confidential information, confided to Scientology by its members during auditing sessions, for the purpose of blackmail, manipulation and control.

1. Guardian’s Office threatens member with disclosure of confidential auditing information.

2. Guardian’s Office peruses individual’s auditing file, and culls confidential disclosures pertaining to sexual conduct and threatens disclosure.

3. Scientologist threaten disclosure of confidential information to prevent individual from seeking legal relief.

4. L. Ron Hubbard used auditing information for blackmail purposes.

5. Guardian’s Office culls confidential information with respect to a member’s sexual conduct in violation of representation of confidentiality.

6. Confidential information submitted at inception of individual’s membership used against him.

7. Member’s auditing information was wrongfully disclosed to the newspaper and published therein in violation of representation of confidentiality.

8. Former Scientologist relied on representations that auditing information was confidential. Scientologists revealed confidential information to the press.

9. The confidential information of Mr. Hartwell, a former Scientologist, was circulated throughout the United States and outside the United States.

10. Scientology member’s confidential information taken to a newspaper for publication. This operation was sent from Clearwater for the purpose of discrediting the individual.

11. Guardian’s Office member testifies that confidential information is culled from a person’s auditing file attack or blackmail the person.

12. Auditing files of former members who criticized Scientology were systematically sent from Clearwater to local Guardian’s Offices in violation of representation of confidentiality. The auditing files were used to embarrass and humiliate.

20. Scientology telexed confidential auditing information of a member concerning her sexual conduct.

City of Clearwater Commission Hearing (1982): The Church of Scientology – Day 4, Janie Peterson

Mr. Hartwell’s auditing information — copies of the auditing information were made and circulated all over the United States and out of the country. They also went to the Worldwide Guardian’s Office, which is in England.

At one point, his auditing information was — excuse me. It was being used against him, in other words. He was also accused of trying to extort Church money from the Church. This was based on mainly hours of taped testimony that had been taken and edited down to a very small cassette tape.

On Tonja Burden, her auditing information was sent in to — it was sent here — or to Las Vegas from the Guardian’s Office here in Clearwater, confidential auditing information that she had given. It was accompanied with an order to the Public Relations person in Las Vegas to take to the Review Journal, which is a newspaper, in an attempt to discredit her to show that she was this bad person, supposedly, based on this information.

Cherokee County Herald (Dec. 1990): “‘Management Seminar’ Harrowing Experience” by Terry Dean

“FOR SEVEN hours, a man drilled me, tried to brainwash me,” said Mrs. Rowe. “l begged him to let me go, he kept saying, ‘but you see Dee, you can’t.’ He tried to get me to confess to crimes. He started getting me to tell him sex stories. He made me list every overt sin I had committed. They insisted I write down everything I had done wrong. I couldn’t list anything bad enough to please them. They tried to get me to tell them crimes other people I knew had committed. I learned later that this was for blackmail purposes.”

Sueddeutsche Zeitung (1997): “Scientology: a young sect ex-member reports for the first time” by Michaela Haas

Every offense was recorded in the ethics file, detailed accounts which are used if someone breaks the Scientology rules. “Then they write the report which goes into the folder.” That way the sect has information on everybody, “and if you want to leave, they can use it to put pressure on you.” Tanya reported exactly, and, upon being questioned, recalled precise details. The Scientology Commissioner of the Hamburg Senate, Ursula Caberta, who takes care of Tanya, regards her as absolutely credible.

New York Times (Sep. 3, 1984): “Lawyer says Church of Scientology is Waging Campaign to ‘Frame’ Him” by Robert Lindsey

Mr. Flynn, a 40-year-old lawyer who has practiced in Boston since 1972, says he has spent more than $400,000 of his own money on legal battles with the Church of Scientology that began in 1979 after he agreed to represent a former church member who wanted a refund of money she had paid for Scientology auditing courses.

«He said the church had decided she was a traitor to its cause and revealed intimate details of her life that she had told in confidential auditing sessions.

Sunday Paper (July 2005): “It stars Tom Cruise, but this is no movie: One Atlanta woman’s Scientology adventure” by Jennifer Smith and Stephanie Ramage

“Everything that he has disclosed in his counseling sessions, every personal detail in his life, every sin he’s committed, is all documented in folders,” she says. “As paying customers, we were told our files were confidential.”

But when Schless became part of the staff, she says she was shocked at the lack of confidentiality and the number of people who had access to the information in those files.

BBC (UK, 1987): “Panorama: The Road to Total Freedom” (Excerpt)

Voice over: But in the recent past, it was policy to cull people’s files for damaging information. Hubbard’s wife Mary Sue, who was later imprisoned, wrote a Guardian Order in 1969, “To make full use of all files on the organization to affect your major target. These include processing files.

Affidavit of LaVenda Van Schaick (1982)

6. The purpose of sending the PC folders to the Guardian’s Office where a person had been designated SP or Fair Game was to use the contents of the folders to attack, threaten, blackmail and control the person and thereby prevent the person from seeking to collect refunds of moneys paid to the Church or to prevent the person from exposing the Church activities. The Church regularly and as part of its policy uses the material in these folders to blackmail and control its members in this way. I personally observed this done on numerous occasions contrary to the promises made to Church members. In one case, the Church declared a person named David Sandweiss an SP and threatened to expose auditing information revealed to his auditor by him if he sued for a refund or sought in any way to expose the Church problems. He thereafter committed suicide.

Stacy Brooks (2000): “My perspective on auditing” (must read)

Now you have had hundreds of hours of Dianetics and Grade auditing. Your idea of what is real has completely changed. You know you are different from other people, because now you know that you have lived for millions of years. You know it is true because you’ve relived so many experiences in your auditing. You feel set apart from other people who have not yet discovered the truth. You want your family to experience the truth too, but you can’t tell them. They wouldn’t believe you. They have to experience it for themselves. You’re spending your time with other Scientologists now, because it’s uncomfortable to be around non-Scientologists. They don’t understand. Scientologists are the only ones who know what reality really is.

Affidavit of Janie Peterson (25 May 1982)

12. This practice of using auditing information for other purposes than were stated at the time the person received his/her auditing was standard and done routinely during all my years in Scientology. […]

16. Due to all of the above actions, when I thought about leaving Scientology and pursuing my legal remedies, I was in fear that these actions would be done to me and that my personal life and the information I gave during my auditing would be used to blackmail me and be taken to the news media for publication.

17. During auditing a person reveals his most personal thoughts, feelings, actions and those of his families, friends and anyone influencing his life.

Clearwater Sun (1982): “Witnesses Tell of Break-ins, Conspiracy” by Steven Girardi

He said he was sent to Scientology outposts around the world to handle resistance and devise ways to make more money. He said he combed purportedly private confessional records of auditing sessions, gleaning any personal information that could help smear campaigns or any other way. …

… Mrs. Peterson, the 34 year old former Guardian Office worker, said she participated in several smear campaigns against church enemies while working in the office until 1979.

She said she got information from confessional files “looking for blood-dripping crimes” about church enemies, among them Edward Walters, who testified Wednesday, and Lavenda Van Schaick, who testified Saturday.

Affidavit of Margery Wakefield (13 April 1990)

At one point, in the fall of 1977, I did volunteer work for the infamous Guardian’s Office of Scientology, the branch of Scientology which deals in espionage and covert activities. I had to go through the auditing folders of a man who had defected and mark in red anything that he had ever said in auditing (which is supposed to be confidential), and I was to look especially for anything involving sexual practices or criminal activities and to mark them in red and circle them.  This information could be used to blackmail him.

Jon Atack (1990): “A Piece of Blue Sky: The Clearwater Hearings”

Lavenda van Schaik, Flynn’s first Scientology litigant, claimed that her Confessional folders had been “culled,” and a list of her deepest secrets sent to the press. […]

He also talked about blackmailing a potential defector into silence, using information from the person’s Scientology Confessional auditing. He put a photocopy of an order to “cull” auditing folders into evidence.

ITV England (1996): “The Big Story: The S Files”

Sister: Richard was anxious about the fact that he was wanting to leave Scientology, and he was concerned that they were not letting him leave, and that they were threatening to print personal information about him. That is what he voiced to me.

Dermot Murnaghan: For several hours that night his movements are unaccounted for but much later that night he parked his car near the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. At ten minutes to midnight he jumped to his death. […]

MacLean’s (1966): “Is this the happiest man in the world?” by Wendy Michener

After a while Judy’s intense manner and the fierce repetition of certain questions began to make Jean edgy. She wanted to smoke but was not allowed to. She wanted to call it quits at lunch, but was ordered to come back again. She did, and by the end of the day was really shaken up. “It was one of the most grueling days I ever put in,” she says, “more grueling even than childbirth.”

The worst part of the session came when Judy asked, “What did someone almost find out about you?” Once would have been bad enough, but Judy repeated this question again and again and again, for a full hour. Judy found out a lot of things in the course of that hour, but Jean still managed to hide three key things, three very personal things.

“By the end my hands were shaking. I could hardly hold the tin cans,” Jean recalls. “I was confused — almost a blubbering idiot.”

Catarina Sandström Pamnell (1997): “Catarina’s Scientology experience: Another day in Scientology-land”

… after maybe a couple of hundred of hours of Scientology auditing, I was experiencing severe anxiety attacks and starting to lose my grip on reality.

Monica Pignotti (1989): “My Nine Lives in Scientology”

Evidence in recent court cases has been introduced that indicates that information people had revealed, not only in sec checks, but in regular auditing has been used against Scientologists if they ever leave the group and try to make trouble. The information in their PC folders is used as blackmail against them. When I was an auditor, I was unaware that this was being done. I thought that the data told to me as an auditor that I recorded in the PC’s folder was being kept strictly confidential.

Ariane Jackson (1996): “OT8 denounces Scientology”

The effects of Scientology on my life as a wife and mother, including two divorces, a husband (to whom I was married before the ex-husband already mentioned) who was persuaded by auditing that he was Jesus Christ reincarnated and could perform miracles but could not keep a job to support our three young children. How I allowed my children to be taken from me.

Willamette Week (Jun. 1985): “Scientology on trial” by Bill Driver

In his testimony and in a subsequent interview, Eddie Walters, a former member who had served as a special operative for Scientology’s security and intelligence unit, known then as the Guardian’s Office, and had also been a top-level auditor (counselor), discussed the process known as “culling” files.”

“We [auditors] were instructed to tell them they could tell us anything,” Walters said in the interview. “They were encouraged to be very open and honest . . . No one would see his folders. Everything he says is between him and I,” However, Walters added, the Guardian’s Office people violated that trust as a matter of policy: “They look for specific things. Things to use for blackmail such as sexual promiscuity, sexual problems, problems within the family, troubles with parents, any alcoholic problems . . . anything a person would not want others to know about.” […]

I saw a staff member who had a problem with masturbation, and they kept her up day and night washing floors, and she did that for two days. They brought her in and confronted her with her stuff in her files.

It just totally caved her in . . . This person, believe it or not, had just not produced as much as they wanted. They felt she didn’t work hard enough. Walters added that the fact that Scientology possesses records of its members’ most intimate secrets is a powerful tool to keep them from leaving, or at least to keep them from criticizing the group if they do leave.

St. Petersburg Times (1980): “For Some It Was Hard To Forsake Scientology” by Craig Roberton

MARJORIE HANSEN, an ex-member who lives in Hanover, Mass., left the church in 1979 after little more than a year. During that time, she says, she served as a “personnel control officer” and helped keep track of staff files.

“I later learned that the purpose of my work was for the supervisors to control and if necessary to threaten staff members with the potential ‘trouble’ that would result to them if they left the church,” Ms. Hansen says.

Silvana Garritano, a nine-year staff veteran, says this practice is called “crime-culling — the systematic perusal of auditing files and the extraction of confidential disclosures made during auditing sessions.”

“The purpose,” she adds, “is to glean embarrassing, humiliating and/or criminal disclosures.”

Ms. Garritano says she was personally told to “cull” a file on a wavering Scientology staff member in California.

“I WAS TOLD to look for homosexual tendencies, child abuse, crimes, any strange relationship with his family or anything the guy would not want known,” Ms. Garritano says. “My supervisor told me this information would be used to keep John Doe silent and prevent him from revealing anything about Scientology.”

Edward Walters of Las Vegas, also a nine-year former staff member, says in his affidavit that pre-clears are led to believe that the information they reveal in auditing is just between them and their auditors.

“But I know as fact,” Walters says, “that the Guardian’s Office has systematically, through the years, used pre-clear data as a tool against any pre-dear who would cause ‘a flap’ or who would threaten to go to the authorities or see a lawyer to sue or get his money back.”

The Buffalo Beast: “Cult Classic – Pseudoscience and Psychedelics in the Church of Scientology”

After some prodding, she explained that the negative press concerning Scientology was the work of “anti-social” personalities, and that ex-Scientologists rarely speak out because the church “knows all their secrets.” Thanks to this current scientologist for candidly admitting the Church of Scientology’s practice of blackmail using members’ auditing files. Sadly, she could end up in the RPF for this blunder though.

Cyril Vosper (1971): “The Mind Benders, Scientology –  Auditing”

Auditing, also known as Processing, is defined as: “The application of Scientology processes and procedures to someone by a trained auditor. The exact definition of auditing is: The action of asking a preclear a question (which he can understand and answer), getting an answer to that question and acknowledging him for that answer.” It is applied to individuals or groups by an Auditor – one who listens and computes.

The action of auditing was, in the years 1950-52, somewhat comparable to psycho-analytic techniques. This was the time of Dianetics and Hubbard has claimed his method to be a more logical development from Sigmund Freud’s than the multitude of “schools” which sprang out of the original pronouncements of the founder of psycho-analysis.

Paulette Cooper (1970): “The Scandal of Scientology”

The Rand Daily Mail in Africa reported that an auditor told the South African Inquiry that he was criticized because he kept the files on his patients “clean.” The same auditor also told the Inquiry that the Scientologists wanted him to jot down the more “meaty” stuff people disclosed. He told the Inquiry that when he left Scientology, he removed his files for fear of blackmail, adding that he had often seen preclear’s files with information circled, and with such statements as “we can use this” printed on it.


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