Former Scientology executive speaks out; files counterclaim

Religion News Blog — The Church of Scientology refers to former executive Debbie Cook and her husband as bitter “defrocked apostates” who are spreading lies and fictions about the church.

But Debbie Cook still considers herself a Scientologist, even though the Church of Scientology says she no longer had the right to refer to herself as such.

“I have never lost my passion or love for the church and all that it stands for, and all that it does to help others,” Cook tells ABC Nightlight, in an interview to be broadcast tonight. “That is my life and I loved doing it, so I’m not bitter. It’s really out of that passion and love and care that I am doing this to rid it of a situation that has grown out of control … it needs to get confronted and it needs to get handled. It can’t go on. You know, I know that L. Ron Hubbard would never approve of it.”

Debbie Cook once ran the church’s ‘spiritual mecca,’ the so-called Flag Base in Clearwater, Florida. But in 2007 she and her husband decided to leave Scientology — a process Scientology often makes tediously difficult.

The Tamba Bay Tribune explains that when they were on the way to see Cook’s father, they “were intercepted and persuaded to return to Clearwater to properly separate from the church staff. If they didn’t go along, she said, a church official said her husband’s Scientology relatives would sever all contact with him.”

In Scientology-speak this is called ‘disconnection‘ — a practice in which a Scientologist severs all ties between themselves and friends, colleagues and/or family members that are deemed to be antagonistic towards Scientology.

After what Cook described as “three grueling weeks” the couple ended up signing contracts agreeing not to publicly criticize Scientology or its leaders. In return they each received a check for $50,000.

That would have been the end of it, were it not for the fact that on New Year’s day Debbie Cook sent an email to 12,000 Church members in which she detailed her concern that the Church of Scientology is becoming a hollow moneymaking machine run by an autocratic ruler.

The Church — known for its litigious nature and its relentless pursuit of critics — sued, alleging that in speaking out Cook and her husband, Wayne Baumgarten, violated the terms of their confidentiality agreements.

Arguing that it faced “substantial risk of imminent harm and irreparable injury,” the church asked for and received an order temporarily restraining Cook and Baumgarten from saying anything more until a court hearing Feb. 9.

That legal move to silence a critic backfired on Scientology when, during the court hearing, Debbie Cook testified about abuses — including kidnapping and torture — she endured during her time with the Church of Scientology.

(She isn’t the first former high-level Church of Scientology member to allege abuses within the Church.)

Stung by her explosive testimony in public court, the Scientology Church dropped its quest to silence Cook.

Now the Village Voice says it has learned that Debbie Cook filed a counterclaim against the Church of Scientology Monday afternoon.

In her counterclaim, Cook is aiming directly at Scientology’s ultimate leader, David Miscavige, by attempting to add two of the church’s most powerful entities to the lawsuit that was filed against her by Scientology’s Flag Service Organization, her former employer.

Watch ABC Nightline tonight for the full interview with Debbie Cook.

Research resources on Scientology
Inside Scientology — The Money Machine

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