Scientology's Antagonists

An ex-Scientologist and an army of online pranksters attempt to bring down the controversial religion.

Gorman's own father joined as a teenager and, while a young man, worked as a cook for the Sea Org, the naval-like brigade whose members sign a billion-year contract to serve the church. Gorman's mother joined the church with the intention of getting her sister out, and remained skeptical as the family drained their money on costly E-meter sessions or two-week cruises aboard the Scientology ship, the Freewinds.

Still, Gorman dreamed of rising through the organization's ranks. He attended schools that taught a Scientology curriculum, starting in preschool with Quiros' former wife as his teacher. Gorman dropped out at 16 to volunteer at the San Francisco org. When he was 18, he says, Quiros started sending him to picket critics' houses for the Office of Special Affairs, of which Quiros is the director. Quiros counters that it was actually a part of a group within the church called the Scientology Parishioners League; Quiros monitored its activity, but didn't tell members whom to picket.

As a volunteer, Gorman targeted critics including San Francisco-based picketer Kristi Wachter, who ran a Web site called "I felt like I was one of the elite ones because most Scientologists are afraid to be around SPs," Gorman says. He would hold up "Religious Bigot" signs in front of Wachter's house, distribute pamphlets to her neighbors, and heckle her if she came out. Yet Wachter says he was not as nasty as some of the other picketers: "You know how adolescent kids get?" she says. "Like, 'Let me see how much I can needle someone and get away with it.' It was for approval."

In March, Anonymous members protested near buildings associated with the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles.
AP/Chris Weeks
In March, Anonymous members protested near buildings associated with the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles.
The church offers “stress tests” at BART stations. Anonymous often protests the booths, saying the church uses them as a recruitment tool.
Jared Gruenwald
The church offers “stress tests” at BART stations. Anonymous often protests the booths, saying the church uses them as a recruitment tool.

In August 2000, Gorman joined the staff at the Mountain View org, where he recognized Jennifer Stewart, a former classmate. Stewart had stopped attending school at 14 to work as a receptionist at the org.

Stewart later alleged that, when she was 16, a staff member told her the church had "ordered" her to stay weeknights at 27-year-old course supervisor Gabriel Williams' one-bedroom apartment in nearby San Jose, where he lived with his fiancée. Her father, Michael Stewart, later told police that he was uncomfortable with the placement — church members described Williams in court documents as a gregarious man who cracked dirty jokes about underage girls. But the elder Stewart said he understood it was a church order, and backed down.

"That's like parents giving their kids Kool-Aid at Jonestown," says Ford Greene, the San Anselmo-based attorney who has handled many high-profile cases against Scientology, and who Jennifer hired for the civil suit. "The level of control is total."

The church denies there was an order for her to stay with Williams, instead saying it was an arrangement Stewart, also a course supervisor at the time, worked out to shorten her commute from San Lorenzo.

While at the org, Gorman noticed Stewart was gaining weight, was frequently crying, and often ran outside or to the bathroom to vomit. She claims another church staffer had her take a pregnancy test, and that she was questioned about her sex life in sessions with the E-meter.

After nine months of staying at Williams' apartment, Stewart finally told Gorman what had happened: According to court documents, she alleges Williams forcibly raped her more than 100 times, threatening to kill her if she told anyone. Stewart says she was terrified that if she reported him, she would be declared an SP and her family would disconnect.

Gorman says he called Quiros the next day, who told him not to go to the cops. But Quiros now counters he didn't say anything about the police, instead telling Gorman to inform Mountain View's then-director of special affairs, Mark Warlick, who told Stewart's father the church would investigate. (Warlick was unavailable for comment.) The org says Williams was fired the next day. Gorman and Stewart's families left Scientology.

"To a certain degree, it's a sad spot in my life because I cared about [the Gormans] and they cared about me," Quiros says.

Terrified that Williams or the church would come after her, or that she would be turned over to child protective services and psychiatrists, who Hubbard said practiced electric shock treatment and lobotomy, Stewart hid at the Gorman family's properties until she turned 18. Her father told a detective that church members contacted his family several times that year to urge them not to go to the police. Nevertheless, Stewart walked into the San Jose Police Department in June 2002 and told her story to then-Detective Jason Herr.

After listening in on a phone call between Stewart and Williams where Williams admitted what he did was "bad, evil, psychotic, freaky," Herr arrested Williams in Florida and had him extradited to California. "[Williams] knew it was inappropriate; they were engaging in sex acts that were by no means appropriate," the detective says. "But he was very adamant that this wasn't a rape or forced situation." Ultimately, "it's what are we going to be able to prove in court? What's the jury going to believe?"

In 2003, Williams pleaded guilty to sexual battery and sodomy with a minor in Santa Clara Superior Court. He was sentenced to a year in county jail and five years' probation. According to the sex offender registry, he lives in Lake County, California. (Williams has not responded to a letter requesting comment, nor has his civil attorney responded to an e-mail.)

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