Scientology's Scourge, Paulette Cooper, Visits with the Voice

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/12/paulette_cooper_scientology_breakfast.php

Scientology's Scourge, Paulette Cooper, Visits with the Voice

Our regular readers can probably imagine why we were pretty thrilled this morning to finally meet the original badass of Scientology watchers, none other than Paulette Cooper.

She was in town to visit her sister and found time to have breakfast with us this morning at the Noho Star, not far from the Voice offices. Speaking of her sister, Suzy, Paulette says that the two of them are still trying to piece together exactly what happened when, as young children, they were rescued from a Nazi camp in Belgium, sparing them the fate of their parents, who were shipped to Auschwitz for extermination. A Belgian man rescued the girls by paying the equivalent of what today would be about $2 million to save 22 children from the camp, and to this day Paulette would like to learn his identity.

She went on, of course, to move to New York, became a magazine journalist, and published several books, including 1971's The Scandal of Scientology, the first journalistic expose of the church. She paid for that with years of incredible harassment by Scientology, which tried to frame her for crimes that had her facing 15 years in prison.

Which makes us wonder: Why the hell hasn't a movie been made about this woman's life?

In fact, she told me, she has been approached about TV shows and feature films about her experiences. A television series tells her it plans to do something about her "next year" (she's not holding her breath), and she herself passed on a movie contract (and now regrets it) because the contract's language about her "life rights" seemed fairly draconian.

Well, we figure the market for her story on the big screen will be opening up, what with the popularity of Janet Reitman's book Inside Scientology, another book from Lawrence Wright coming, and the release next year of Paul Thomas Anderson's movie The Master (yes, yes, we know the studio claims the Philip Seymour Hoffman character -- a WW2 vet who comes home damaged and then starts a 1950s faddish religion -- is not based on L. Ron Hubbard, but give us a break, we're not stupid).

PauletteAndTony2.jpg
Yeah, I was pretty rapt with attention
​And there's plenty for a good screen adaptation of Paulette's life. She told us a story this morning we hadn't heard before: at one point, she says, she and her sister were hustled with the rest of the children into a line at the camp where they were staying. Nazi guards went down the line of kids, yelling out "left" or "right" at each of them to separate them into two halves. Then one group was taken away to the extermination camps. Paulette and her sister, she says, somehow both ended up in the group that was spared.

Fast forward some twenty years, and a Scientology spy who called himself Jerry Levin, after the publication of Paulette's expose of the church, worked his way into Paulette's confidence. She ended up trusting him so much, she allowed him to move into her apartment as a platonic friend. But the FBI later concluded that "Levin" masterminded the operation that lifted a piece of her stationery, got her fingerprint on it, and then wrote bomb threats to the local Scientology "org" on her stationery, managing to get Paulette indicted and facing 15 years in prison. Levin also continually tried to get her up to a narrow ledge on the roof of her building, next to a pool. She became convinced that he was trying to create the conditions for an "accident" that would kill her. But she was too paranoid to go near the ledge. Finally, Paulette was only exonerated when the FBI raided Scientology in 1977 because the church was engaged in what to this day is the most extensive infiltration of federal offices in American history. Only then were documents discovered showing that Scientology's spy wing had dreamed up elaborate plans to frame Paulette. To this day, meanwhile, Paulette is searching for the real identity of "Jerry Levin" and two women who were part of his plot to frame her with the bomb threats.

Seems like some kickass film material if you ask us.

We recently marked the 40th anniversary of the publication of Paulette's book, and it was heartening to hear that after all this time -- and the harassment, which included 19 lawsuits, which weren't concluded until 1983 -- she still pays close attention to Scientology news.

She and I compared notes about the various figures who watch Scientology, including prominent ex-church members. And she pointed out something I hadn't really considered before -- how difficult it is for ex-members to come out of Scientology and then struggle to get jobs with what might be years of service to the church in their backgrounds. How do you make that look good on a resume, she asked me?

I told her that I'd seen something of that when, for example, I'd interviewed Tory Christman (then Tory Bezazian) just a few months after her defection. It was obvious that leaving Scientology after many years was a devastating experience in itself, and it can take years for a person to recover -- as Nancy Many records so well in her self-published memoir. But except for Marc Headley, a former member who almost immediately had business success after leaving the church, I hadn't really asked ex-members to talk about what it was like to get back on their feet. As Headley and others have said to me, they are warned by Scientology officials that they would be completely unequipped to survive if they break away, having spent much of their adult lives with no real job, no bank account, and, in many cases, after cutting off all ties with all non-Scientologist friends and family.

In the comments, I'd love to hear your tale. After leaving Scientology, how hard were those initial years, and how did you get back on your feet? Who knows, someone considering leaving may see your story.

Well, it was amazing finally to meet Paulette Cooper. She was as entertaining and gracious and poised as I'd come to expect. She's a legend in the field of Scientology watching, and it's good to know that she's watching us here -- so give her a shout-out!

PS: There's still one more day to vote for Scientology Story of the Year, so get over there and cast your ballot!


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
There's some nice posts from Jeff Hawkins and Marc Headley in the comments and also this:

Hy Levy 12 hours ago
Tony,

In response to your question as to how difficult it was to re-establish myself after I left the Sea Org, worrying about what to put on a resume was the least of my problems.

In 1985, before I joined the Sea Org, I was a well respected computer programmer (that's what we called ourselves in the "early days"). After nearly 25 years in the Sea Org (I left in 2009), the entire technology had completely changed. In 1985 there was no commercial use of the internet, maybe some universities and governmental applications existed. So at first I didn't even try to get back in that field.

So...who could I go to who would hire me (as more than unskilled labor)? I was told when I routed out, even though I had followed all the procedures to the letter and was in "good standing" with the Church (at that time), that I could not contact public that I knew from when I worked at the FSO as it would be "bad PR". So what did this leave me with? Family? They didn't really have any "job openings" for me. Earlier business contacts? From 25 years ago? Are you kidding? Well, in fact that IS where I looked.

As a staff member we were not allowed to use the internet so I really had no idea what its power was like...but I learned fast. I registered at LinkedIn and looked for a guy I remembered well who I had worked for in the early 80's. Last I knew he lived in Virginia and I was in New Jersey now, but what the heck...it was worth a shot.

Well unbelievable as it may sound, I did find him on LinkedIn and with a picture that matched so I knew it was him. Amazingly enough he now ALSO lived in New Jersey. Well when I worked for him in the 80's I was developing software and he was my boss. He had shifted careers and was now writing very technical training curricculums for training security personnel (like TSA) on how to use the detection equipment his company manufactured.

Well, because he knew me and thought well of me, he got me an interview with his boss for an opening as an instructor teaching the courses he was writing. Well, I'll make a long story short. I had no experience as a teacher, and try as I did, I couldn't really get it down the way that was expected. For the first time in my life I was "let go" (fired) from a job due to failure to perform.

OK, so I tried a couple of other things (where a formal resume was not required), but none of them really took off (tutoring, public insurance adjusting). Finally, at the suggestion of a family member, I decided to take a crack at getting back into the software development field. I knew nothing about the internet (had only recently learned how to use it at all), couldn't even tell you what HTML stood for (Hyper Text Markup Language - the language used to describe how screens on the internet are laid out). A friend of mine pointed me to the right on-line video
tutorials that I should look at and I trained myself from scratch.

I did a small job for this friend (for almost no money, but to get the experience) and then he suggested I look in Craig's List. Bingo! Found a contract. People who advertise on Craig's List do not generally hire based on a resume, but I wrote one anyway and simply said I had been out of the field for many years and had now returned to it. It wouldn't work to lie, but I didn't see any point in blurting out that I worked for Scientology for all those years.

Well that was the beginning of my "new career". I now make a modest, but more than adequate income building websites. I'm pretty good at it if I do say so myself (everything changed in terms of how applications run since 1985, but the basics never changed).

So, that's my story. So if anyone tells you that if you leave the Church you will not be able to get a job....well...it's all up to you. The freedom to do what you want also makes it possible to succeed without the shackles that formerly kept you tied down and hampered you.

Hy Levy
Independent Scientologist
 

Good twin

Floater
Paulette Cooper :biglove: I hope she was directed to this site. On ESMB you will find a bunch of starting over in real life stories.
 

Veda

Sponsor
Thanks for the update Free to shine :). For any curious lurkers, here's some background in video form:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uF99yYCE8wI

At 2:42 - 4:22 of the above short video, Paulette Cooper can be seen addressing a rally in Clearwater, Florida and, later, being interviewed by Mike Wallace. The video consists of clips from two '60 Minutes' programs, about fifteen years apart. The first - longer - segment - is from 1980; the latter - shorter - segment, concerning "C.A.N.," is from the mid 1990s.

To complete the series, here's a segment of the mid 1980s '60 Minutes' program with Heber Jentzsch and Earle Cooley:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5Drk3eVQSg&feature=related

From a recent interview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjzOMbY8kfo&feature=uploademail

Below, Nancy Many talks about infiltration and, at 1:30 - 2:59, L. Ron Hubbard's hatred of Paulette Cooper:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY76WHmRlYA&feature=player_embedded
 

namaste

Silver Meritorious Patron
Thanks for the update Free to shine :). For any curious lurkers, here's some background in video form:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uF99yYCE8wI

At 2:42 - 4:22 of the above short video, Paulette Cooper can be seen addressing a rally in Clearwater, Florida and, later, being interviewed by Mike Wallace. The video consists of clips from two '60 Minutes' programs, about fifteen years apart. The first - longer - segment - is from 1980; the latter - shorter - segment, concerning "C.A.N.," is from the mid 1990s.

To complete the series, here's a segment of the mid 1980s '60 Minutes' program with Heber Jentzsch and Earle Cooley:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5Drk3eVQSg&feature=related

From a recent interview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjzOMbY8kfo&feature=uploademail

Below, Nancy Many talks about infiltration and, at 1:30 - 2:59, L. Ron Hubbard's hatred of Paulette Cooper:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY76WHmRlYA&feature=player_embedded
I see the video links in you quote as I type this reply but they're not showing up in the actual post. I've noticed this on a couple of other posts the last couple of days but haven't seen any discussion about it.
Is it just me?

Anyway, more nice work on Tony's part.
Paulette Cooper -- wow!
I didn't know that about her ordeals with the Nazi camps in her youth.
It's too bad Hubbard isn't around to see this stuff come back now and bite him in the ass. Nevertheless, I'm glad that he and Adolf Hitler are dead.
Especially Hubbard.
 
G

Gottabrain

Guest
:clap::clap:

Thanks, FTS. Paulette Cooper speaking about Scn publicly again is a monstrous happy moment. :happydance:

Paulette is a kind, genuine, sweet woman who was tortured for many years by COS and COS members but survived it, exposed the torture and foraged on and forward with her life. This is the first time she's spoken publicly in all that time and it makes me very excited and happy for her. Paulette is adorable and I just love her to bits and want to hug her right now! :bighug: :biglove:

Paulette only learned what Anonymous and the ex's were doing a few years ago, when she saw the huge efforts, protest movements and exodus from COS. To see that she now knows she has complete support is heartwarming.

You will never again be alone exposing the crimes of COS, Paulette.

Thank you, dear lady, for coming forward again.

:flowers2:
 

Smilla

Ordinary Human
I've always really admired Paulette Cooper - she's a wonderful person, and very courageous.
 
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