By now, I’m sure most of you have heard about Daniel Montalvo’s lawsuits against the Church of Scientology. Basically, Daniel – who escaped from the Sea Org months ago – has filed a pair of lawsuits alleging that his parents essentially handed him over to Church guardianship, which sent him to work instead of school and violated scores of California labor laws in the process. Indeed, the fact that Daniel lost part of a finger working at the book bindery is testament to why we have those laws. (Copies of both lawsuits can be found on Marty Rathbun’s site here and here; non-Marty mirrors here and here.)
This is a monumental case, because it’s not an isolated incident. Daniel Montalvo is just one of goodness-knows-how-many children who have been suffering this sort of abuse and neglect at the hands of Scientology since… well, shit, at least since Hubbard first took his followers to sea in the 1960s. Remember, Scientology teaches that children aren’t children – they are trillion-year-old “thetans” (spirits) in small bodies.
What will Scientology do? That remains to be seen. There is an excellent explanation of the legal issues over on Why We Protest. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m guessing that the smartest thing Scientology could go is settle – after all, this is just a civil case, and if the State of California takes notice and decides to pursue the violations, the Church could have much, much bigger problems.
That said, it’s not like the Church hasn’t dealt with criminal charges before; you’ll recall that L. Ron Hubbard, that great and wise guru, sat back and did nothing while his wife was marched off to jail (which, by the way, seems almost sympathetic compared to the way he allegedly reacted when his second son Quentin committed suicide). I’m sure David Miscavige and crew would have no problem turning a few scapegoats over for prosecution and then gleefully claiming, as they did about Mary Sue Hubbard, that the criminals had been purged from the organization and Scientology will go forth and sin no more. (I imagine the sacrificial lambs would go along gladly, serving the greatest good.)
But settling could open the Church up to more lawsuits – and seeing that the primary goal of Scientology is to make money, I don’t think they’ll want to let that happen.
How is our old friend Marty Rathbun reacting to all this? I’m sure Marty would love to claim Daniel’s case as a victory for the cause of Independent Scientology. But from all that’s being said, I’m guessing Marty has been politely told to buzz off. Check out this comment he posted on his own blog:
“I think people should know that this case is Daniel Montalvo’s. His lawyer … is representing Daniel and ONLY Daniel. I am confident that he will do everything in his power to make his client whole… Whatever path this case takes the fact of it being brought, and hopefully the fact of it resulting in a wrong being justly remedied, will serve as benefit to the public at large and others similarly situated. Anything beyond that is of no concern to me. I would hope others will grant Daniel and his counsel that space and power of choice.” (Original here.)
This sounds fair enough, until you remember the affidavit he wrote for the Headley case (PDF on Marty’s site), which had more to do with Marty’s personal vendetta against David Miscavige than the Headley’s perfectly legitimate case for back wages. The case was dismissed – on his blog, Marty called this a blessing in disguise – and another opportunity to expose Sea Org working conditions to legal scrutiny was lost. I don’t know if Marty’s affidavit was what deep-sixed the Headley’s case, but I’m sure it didn’t help. I don’t want to see him fuck up Daniel’s chances. To be fair, Marty deserves credit for helping to raise money to get Daniel out of the Sea Org. Still, as far as I’m concerned, the farther Marty stays away from this case, the better.
Even if Marty isn’t invited to play, I have no doubt that Independent Scientologists will try to manipulate this as an indictment of the current Church – which it is, but that’s only half the truth.
We, as Scientology protesters, need to make sure that people here the rest of the story — that this type of abuse and neglect is inherent in the culture of Scientology, as authored by L. Ron Hubbard.
Some people will try to hide that fact. Our job is not to let that happen. We can accomplish this by simply talking about it – on blogs, on forums, at protests, to our friends who ask about Scientology.
Our job is easy because truth is on our side. Those who try to say that what Daniel and other kids like him have suffered is all Miscavige’s fault, and not the intentions of LRH, are either misinformed, disillusioned, or deliberately lying. There is plenty of proof – much of it in the written policies of L. Ron Hubbard, that magnificent bastard.
Marty pointed out above that this is Daniel’s fight, not anyone else’s. I’m really split on this. On the one hand, there’s no question that the Church can’t possibly pay Daniel enough to make up for his lost childhood, lost education, and lost family (not to mention his lost finger). On the other hand, I think there is a higher purpose here.
One possible outcome is that Daniel will face a choice between a) settling, signing a gag order and allowing the case to die, or b) forging ahead, taking the risk of losing, and exposing to the world what is happening to all of the kids in the Sea Org.
If it comes to that – and I know some people will disagree with me on this – I hope Daniel does the latter.
Daniel, whatever you do, I’m behind you 100% – and I’m proud of you for standing up to Scientology and telling the world your story. People need to hear it.