Freedom - Special Supplement

The Facts the St. Petersburg Times Propaganda Suppressed

The following was offered in response to an article
which appeared in the St. Petersburg Times’ 7 December edition.
The content of the letter speaks for itself.
The Times refused to print any of these facts.
The Church then offered to buy space in the paper so the truth
could be told. The Times again refused.
We now bring you the true story the Times refused to tell.

14 December 1997      

     Dear Mr. Barnes;

While we respect and agree with freedom of speech, it is highly unlikely that that applies to a corporate board conspiring to illegally destroy a recognized religion.
     We have taken the opportunity to look up the “facts” alleged in your Sunday, 7 December, front page story concerning pilgrimages to the Church of Scientology in Clearwater. Your indictment and conviction by innuendo was of course timed to appear right before the Clearwater Police department was to make its presentation of evidence to the State Attorney’s Office concerning the McPherson case. And all of this was flanked by several editorials in your paper patently attempting to intimidate the State Attorney and the Clearwater City Commission based on allegations “discovered”—but which, of course, were all sourced to your own fallacious article.

     A cursory inspection of police documents and medical examiner records that are publicly available and which your reporter was aware of before writing her propaganda piece indicate the facts that I lay out below. You have of course ignored them in order to allow yourself to forward your preconceived slant directed toward attempting to influence an ongoing investigation. At first blush, your article seems to be full of innuendos. But when you look more closely it is quite evidently dishonest and full of lies.

     Andreas Oestertag:

     Your article reports: “Reports published in Germany earlier this year question the death.”

     Mr. Oestertag drowned in November of 1985 while attempting to swim across Clearwater Bay in a tropical storm hoping that he could dislodge his grounded boat. A contemporaneous article in the St. Petersburg Times itself stated that he and his partner “read a sign at the park’s North beach. Its red letters delivered a stern message:

     “NO SWIMMING. Dangerous Currents.”

     Your own article twelve years ago also states that Oestertag and his partner ignored the sign because they had swum through these waters on numerous occasions before.

     The autopsy report on Oestertag was authorized by Joan Wood (your resident “authority” when it comes to Scientology bashing) and gives no indication that there was anything suspicious about the death whatsoever. The report from the Sheriff’s Office and St. Petersburg Times article both reflect that the drowning was witnessed and that there was absolutely nothing suspicious about the incident whatsoever. This incident alone evidences how low you will stoop to tarnish the image of Scientology. You ignore your own articles and your own “expert” and simply rewrite history by innuendos.

     Peter Frei:

     You manufacture suspicion by quoting Joan Wood, “What’s a fully-clothed man doing dead in the water? Clearly this death should be reinvestigated.”

     You conveniently omit that Joan Wood herself signed off the autopsy report on Friday, 30 June 1988, and that her autopsy report notes that Frei was not fully-clothed but instead was wearing swim trunks. You also write out of history three different places within the police reports concerning the drowning that also indicated Frei was wearing swim trunks. The autopsy report of Wood determines the cause of death as “drowning.” Nothing in Wood’s report indicates that there was anything odd or anything that ought to be followed up for investigation.

     For you to rely on Wood to create quotations with which to indict Scientology for a nine-year-old non-incident is unconscionable.

The Facts the St. Petersburg Times Propaganda Suppressed continued...

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