Scientology's Antagonists

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

Gorman and Stewart married in May 2003. Having researched cases against Scientology for months, they finally decided to press a civil suit against the church. That's when the Gormans say they began to be subjected to the church's "fair game" policy. A 1967 order from Hubbard stated that an SP may be "tricked, sued, or lied to, or destroyed." The church says the policy was cancelled decades ago, but critics claim they can cite many examples to this day.

As documented in police reports Gorman has since posted online, his father answered the phone to hear someone say, "SPs don't live long! Your son and his wife Jennifer will be dead soon!" Gorman's mother was tailed in her car for 45 minutes. After Jennifer lost control of the couple's 1991 Lexus while on the way to her attorney's office, a mechanic showed police that all six bolts connecting the left axle to the transmission were missing, which was probably done deliberately. City child protection workers showed up at the Gormans' house on an anonymous tip that Gorman's father may have sexually abused Tommy's sister, Christle. Gorman has no proof it was Scientology other than the timing, and Quiros denies the church was involved. About the axle, he says, "the most likely story is [Gorman] did it himself."

Quiros visited the Gormans' house near Lake Merced and Gorman's sister's karate studio to "talk some sense into them" about going to mediation, and not pursue a trial. Gorman says at points his family and even Jennifer tried to persuade him to drop the case because of the harassment, but that made him only more determined: "We fell into a bucket of shit, and now we had to climb out of it," he says. "I decided I had to stop being a pussy about it."

Tommy Gorman used to picket the houses of Scientology critics. He now uses the same tactics to protest the church itself.
Jared Gruenwald
Tommy Gorman used to picket the houses of Scientology critics. He now uses the same tactics to protest the church itself.
Jeff Quiros , president of the San Francisco Church of Scientology, calls Tommy Gorman a “lying criminal” and Anonymous the “electric Klan.”
Jared Gruenwald
Jeff Quiros , president of the San Francisco Church of Scientology, calls Tommy Gorman a “lying criminal” and Anonymous the “electric Klan.”

When Greene took on the case, Jennifer refused to be alone and rarely left the house. She and Tommy said they never had sex. Greene says she still couldn't complete more than one or two sentences about what happened to her before starting to sob or vomit — this was not a woman who would be able to tell her story on the witness stand. "She was a crushed little pup," the attorney says.

So Greene told her she had to overcome her terror to pursue the case, and worked out a plan where she would stand outside alone for one minute each day and work up to 20 minutes. While standing in front of the house, Jennifer scribbled in a notebook, "I'm scared that someone is going to drive by and shoot me in the head. What I mean by someone is Scientology."

Finally, at a mediation session, Jennifer told her version of the story. She was tearful yet focused. "I knew she had it in her," Gorman says. "When you show them you're not scared, that's when Scientology gets scared."

The church's attorneys called the suit a "shakedown" in a mediation statement and said officials had no knowledge of the relationship. But Quiros says the church had to consider the legal fees and disastrous publicity of Jennifer's allegations seeing court: "The blowback would be outrageous."

The Gormans can't discuss the amount on the 2005 settlement check, but Lawrence Wollersheim, a fellow ex-Scientologist who was awarded an $8.7 million judgment for "infliction of emotional distress" against the church in 2002, says he knows it was in the "high, high hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Now 24, Jennifer says she feels relieved the lawsuit is over. "I at least did something, to a certain degree, that I feel happy about," she says. She still has difficulty talking about her past, so Gorman usually speaks for her with the straightforward, look-you-in-the-eye assertion of a military recruiter. His story never wavers, and since the settlement, he has told it to whoever will listen. He posted an account with Jennifer's picture on the anti-Scientology site www.lermanet.com. He befriended other former Scientologists nationwide and flew down to Los Angeles for several protests. Usually more than 20 critics would RSVP for such things, but Gorman says most "chicken-shitted out." At San Francisco protests, Gorman rarely got anyone to join him. Finally in February, he heard from other critics that a group named Anonymous had organized on the Internet to stage a protest in Los Angeles. He headed down, camera in hand.


After five months of protesting together more or less in harmony, a faction of Anonymous almost broke up with Tommy Gorman. The drama is lived out on multiple threads dozens of posts long, but the brief version goes like this: Old-guard Scientology critic Tory Christman ventured into a ruckus message board called the Thunderdome on www.enturbulation.org, a haven for the darker-humored subset of Anonymous who "flame" their targets with insults, the more politically incorrect the better. Christman joined in the mudslinging, but when one post talked about "anal raping" her, she apparently didn't catch that such threats usually mean little outside of cyberspace. Christman told Gorman, who then challenged one of the forum posters known as megaphonebitch at the July protest with something to the tune of "before you get to [Tory], you're going to have to deal with me."

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