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Inside Scientology

A Times investigation beginning June 21, 2009
The Church of Scientology pressured Sara Goldberg to "disconnect" from her son, a church outcast. She refused. Church clergy then forced her to make a nightmarish choice: Son or daughter.
The untold story of two dogged FBI agents, witnesses on the lam, and the surrender of self inside the Church of Scientology.
For nearly 25 years, the church spent millions to keep tabs on one of its former officials, Pat Broeker, according to two private investigators who sued Scientology in September 2012.

After 17 years as Scientology's top official in Clearwater, Debbie Cook left the church in 2007. She re-emerged in early 2012 with stories of abuse and a call for reform.
Former Scientology insiders say the church uses coercive fundraising tactics to feed its voracious appetite for cash. A three-part series.
A Miami dentist buys into Scientology's business philosophies and transforms his practice into a money machine for the church. Later, his patients, employees and suppliers are left holding the bag when his business crashes.

Former members of Scientology's Sea Org say the religious order pressured them to have abortions they did not want. A two-part series.
Larry Anderson, the star of Scientology's recruiting film, has left the church. He says Scientology failed to deliver on its promises of spiritual gain and its pledge to promptly refund his money.
Members of an elite group who reached the highest level in Scientology, their faith was shaken by the church's leaders.

Caught between the church and her husband, Annie Tidman chose the church.
In a three-part series, former Scientology staffers tell how the church controlled them, then pursued them when they tried to leave.
More Scientology defectors from around the country step forward to corroborate accounts of abuse and violence within the church.

High-ranking defectors tell of violence in Scientology's top ranks. This three-part series also reveals new information about the Lisa McPherson death case and details the degrading rituals that keep church staffers in line.

BY JOE CHILDS and THOMAS C. TOBIN, Times Staff Writers


Mark C. "Marty" Rathbun left the Church of Scientology staff in late 2004, ending a 27-year career that saw him rise to be a top lieutenant under church leader David Miscavige. He spent the next four years living a low-profile existence in Texas. Some speculated he had died.

In February 2009, Rathbun surfaced on the Internet, announcing on a new web page that he was available to counsel other disaffected Scientologists.

"Having dug myself out of the dark pit where many who leave the church land," he wrote, "I began lending a hand to others similarly situated." Contacted that month by the Tampa Bay Times, Rathbun agreed to tell the story of his years in Scientology and what led to his leaving.

Thus began the long-running Tampa Bay Times series, "Inside Scientology," which sheds unprecedented light on the internal workings of a secretive church that counts Clearwater as its spiritual home. The organization also generates interest and controversy around the world.

The Times' conversations with Rathbun led to interviews with scores of other people in the Scientology world, including former staffers, former parishioners and current church members. Times journalists often traveled the country to meet their subjects face-to-face.

They also requested interviews with church officials, who initially spoke with the reporters but later responded to Times inquiries with only written answers. The newspaper has given prominence to the church's responses.

Scientologists and former Scientologists revealed aspects of the church previously unknown to the public, including how church upper level managers engaged in violent behavior, how the church controls its members and how it pressures and pesters them to donate far beyond their financial means.

The result of the Times' reporting is this multi-part special report, the latest in a long history of Scientology coverage by the newspaper. The Times won a Pulitzer Prize for a 1979 report on Scientology. And in the years since, with the church's Clearwater headquarters in the Times' prime coverage area, the in-depth reporting has continued.

Two veteran Times journalists have reported this series.

Joe Childs, Senior Editor/At Large, ran the Times Clearwater operation dating to 1993 and supervised the newspaper's Scientology coverage. He can be reached at

Thomas C. Tobin has covered the Church of Scientology on and off since 1996. He can be reached at

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