February 20, 2015
Ms. Stephanie S. Abrutyn, Esq.
Vice President and Senior Counsel,
Litigation and Anti-Piracy
Home Box Office, Inc.
Re: HBO documentary on Scientology
Dear Ms. Abrutyn:
We represent Religious Technology Center (“RTC”) and its staff member, Anne Joasem, whose 15-year marriage to Marty Rathbun is a subject of HBO’s recently-released “documentary” by Alex Gibney.
Your film contains materially false information about Ms. Joasem, which is presented in the documentary as true. Ms. Joasem has always done, and continues to do, what she has chosen in her life, particularly her work in support of her religion. To infer, as Mr. Gibney does, that she was ever held against her will is outlandishly false. We also understand that the film claims that Ms. Joasem’s comments on a national TV news program were “scripted”. Not only is that contention absolutely untrue, it is precisely the type of behavior that Mr. Rathbun has admitted he engaged in, abetted by two other sources used by HBO for this program. It is inconceivable that HBO would broadcast such statements about my client without even attempting to check its facts.
By way of introduction, Anne Joasem is a highly trained minister of the Church, and has been a senior executive in RTC since 1987 and a Scientologist since 1971. For a time, she was also Marty Rathbun’s superior, despite a recent lie told by Rathbun in a self-published book where he claimed that Ms. Joasem answered directly to him (in reality, Marty Rathbun was never Ms. Joasem’s superior). Having been married to and worked with Marty Rathbun for so many years, Ms. Joasem came to know Rathbun intimately and has direct and extensive knowledge of his personal and professional activities between 1989 and 2004 — years relevant to and featured in your documentary.
Given Ms. Joasem’s high-level position in the Church, as well as her direct and daily contact with Marty Rathbun during the time period covered in the documentary, Ms. Joasem was uniquely situated to address and respond to the allegations made by Mr. Rathbun in your documentary. Consequently, both we and Ms. Joasem find it astonishing that Mr. Gibney would allow Mr. Rathbun to present false information about Ms. Joasem in the film, not even contact Ms. Joasem for a response, and even refuse to meet with her when she attempted to address Mr. Rathbun’s false allegations with Mr. Gibney in person.
As I am sure you know, Ms. Joasem traveled to New York to speak to Mr. Gibney given her relevant knowledge regarding Mr. Gibney’s film. She would have told Mr. Gibney the truth about Marty Rathbun. She finds it incredible that her attempts to meet and set the record straight were refused.
Had Mr. Gibney been truly interested in airing the truth, rather than an unfair and slanted hit piece on the Scientology religion, he would have sat down with Ms. Joasem and learned the real facts from someone who knew him personally and intimately and could have provided firsthand accounts of Rathbun’s actual position, actions and incompetence. You have already been informed, numerous times, of Rathbun’s self-admitted criminal conduct, including suborning perjury and obstruction of justice, and that he admitted to costing the Church millions of dollars as a result of his malfeasance as a legal affairs officer.
Had Mr. Gibney met with Ms. Joasem, he would have learned that Marty Rathbun—the principal source of his documentary—is unstable, violent and untrustworthy. In particular, Mr. Gibney would have learned that:
• Marty Rathbun first deserted the Church in 1993 after he lied to Ms. Joasem, claiming he was stepping out to place a phone call. The Church had just achieved a monumental victory gaining tax-exempt recognition from the IRS. This was the culmination of years of work with the IRS by the ecclesiastical leader resulting in exemption determination letters that, collectively, covered all Scientology Churches, Missions and affiliated organizations in the United States. For Scientologists, this marked the end of 40 years of acrimonious relations with the IRS and the end of a long and bitter war. Unlike Scientologists world over who celebrated this achievement, Mr. Rathbun was upset that the “war” was over. As such, he departed within a month without so much as a word to his wife—much less anyone else.
• Upon his return, and because of his mental state, the Church provided Mr. Rathbun with a sabbatical in the Caribbean for two years to rest and recuperate. Coincidentally, Mr. Rathbun’s father was dying at the time and, because Rathbun refused to see him, Ms. Joasem cared for him. When Rathbun’s father passed away, Ms. Joasem handled his will, the funeral arrangements and all other estate matters; not Mr. Rathbun, who as above, refused to see his father or attend his funeral owing to his poor mental state.
• Ms. Joasem was present when Rathbun was removed from his position as a legal affairs officer. Mr. Rathbun told Ms. Joasem that he had created a “legal catastrophe” for the Church and had no one to blame but himself. Rathbun also admitted that his malfeasance cost the Church millions of dollars, all of which was directly attributable to his misconduct.
• Rathbun deserted the Church a second time in 2004. When Rathbun finally phoned Ms. Joasem he had driven his car into a ditch in a drunken stupor. After he returned, he began making references to Ms. Joasem about going to “war” with enemies of the Church and that he was a “fighter, a warrior, a mercenary” and that he will always fight. The Church was not engaged in any “battles,” litigation or otherwise, at the time, but it was obvious that Rathbun’s intent was to provoke some sort of confrontation to satiate his desires to “fight” and be at “war.” Clearly, Mr. Rathbun was coming unhinged and Ms. Joasem was deeply concerned about his mental state.
• Following his return to the Church, Mr. Rathbun was provided with another sabbatical to rest and comprehensive medical care, all of which was arranged by Ms. Joasem. Rathbun requested to work in the Church’s carpentry mill, which he did several hours per day and the rest of the time he worked out, took long walks and attended to his significant medical needs, which at the time included varicose veins, gallstones, polyps and chiropractic treatment. He was also put on a medically supervised nutritional regime. Here again, Mr. Rathbun was given nearly a year of supervised medical, nutritional and spiritual assistance to help him recover from his latest psychotic break—all of which was supervised by Ms. Joasem.
• Not long afterwards, Rathbun declared that he desired to return to a “position of power.” When Ms. Joasem told Rathbun that, given his history, it would not be possible, Mr. Rathbun reacted aggressively, brandishing his fist in Ms. Joasem’s face and threatening her with physical violence. Given Mr. Rathbun’s proclivity for violence—a fact Ms. Joasem knew all too well for she previously witnessed violent behavior on the part of Mr. Rathbun, including the occasion when he put his fist through a computer screen in anger—Ms. Joasem moved into a separate apartment and lived there in fear of Rathbun’s rage.
Had Mr. Gibney agreed to meet with her, Ms. Joasem would have made it clear that Mr. Rathbun was removed from his position in legal affairs years prior to his departure and that he was expelled from the Church more than a decade ago due to his unethical actions, lies and violent tendencies. She would have also proven to Mr. Gibney that following his expulsion Mr. Rathbun turned his declared desire to “wage war” upon the Church itself and took to re-writing history to cover up his destructive acts. As documented on video numerous times, he has also engaged in precisely the same violent conduct that Ms. Joasem described years ago on CNN when she appeared in response to Rathbun’s false and unsupported claims so that people could hear the truth about him. HBO has now given him a platform to air his lies without consequence.
Given that Ms. Joasem was the last person in the Church to talk to Mr. Rathbun before he left for good in 2004 and was subjected to his physical threats, one would think that Mr. Gibney would have been anxious to interview her about Mr. Rathbun’s credibility. But the truth is apparently not on Mr. Gibney’s agenda.
Indeed, given the relevant, first-hand information Ms. Joasem has about Marty Rathbun, and the allegations he makes—all of which are now in an “HBO Documentary”—Ms. Joasem was shocked that no one ever attempted to contact her for an interview.
Given the false information in the documentary about Ms. Joasem as well as the mountain of information proving that its source is a violent and mentally unstable man who lacks credibility, we demand that you immediately remove any references to Ms. Joasem in your film that states or implies that she was held against her will or that she was coerced to appear on CNN and spoke from a script as opposed to her own personal knowledge. None of the references are based on the truth. If you do not comply with the foregoing in a timely manner, we will advise our client accordingly.
Nothing contained herein shall constitute a waiver or release of any of my client’s rights or remedies, all of which are hereby expressly reserved.
ROBERT E. MANGELS of
Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP