Filmmaker Vince Offer filing lawsuit against the Church for labeling him a “criminal” in their eyes.
Longtime Scientologist filmmaker Vince Offer is suing the Church of Scientology for labeling him a “criminal,” persecuting his film’s artistic expression, damaging his business and a host of other claims. The preliminary case discussion starts in LA judicial court June 24, 2004.
Offer claims that in 1997, while in production on his movie The Underground Comedy Movie co-starring Michael Clarke Duncan, Slash, Gena Lee Nolin and Joey Buttafuoco, church officials allegedly orchestrated a covert propaganda campaign against Offer. He claims illegally selected shots of the movie were taken from a rough cut copy, placed in a report accompanied by scarring comments and distributed within the church.
Offer says the Scientology sub-organization that recruits and caters to celebrities, “Celebrity Center International” located in Hollywood and whose motto is “To Create a Safe Space for Artists,” then recruited dozens of his Scientology friends, associates and actors that worked on Underground Comedy to write false and malicious reports against him. If individuals refused to write these reports, they were threatened with condemnation and punishment that could be lethal to their careers.
One person made a statement saying, “They threatened that I would also be Declared Suppressive if I didn’t write up all the bad stuff I knew on Vince.” A Scientology term, “Declared Suppressive” means being labeled as an “enemy” of Scientology, expelled from the organization, becoming “fair game” and subject to “disconnection” by all family, friends and associates who are Scientologists.
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Celebrity Center staff executives then summoned Offer to face a Scientology court for the numerous charges that, unbeknownst to Offer, were recruited by Scientology officials but were presented to Offer as having been written by other members on their “own accord.”
Offer claims the court was run by four scientology church staff members, the youngest being about 14 years of age, and in March of 1998 a ruling document entitled “Findings and Recommendations” held Offer to be guilty of 23 charges, none of which were ever presented to him in the “court.” The ruling document labeled him a “Declare Type B,” a Scientology term which means a person who is a “Criminal” and has “a criminal record.” This was publicly distributed or communicated to all associates, future associates and general Scientology members.
Offer clams he suffered irreparable damage due to this, including a lucrative business enterprise he owned that consisted of many Scientology sales representatives who abandoned him upon hearing the “Criminal” charge. The enterprise folded soon after.
In August 1999, a year and a half after Offer was labeled a “criminal,” Offer says a Scientology appeal board found that the original accusations in the court ruling were all untrue and that Offer was never even presented with the charges. Furthermore, they concluded the imposition of the “Criminal” label on Offer was an injustice.
But the appeal board never apologized or acknowledged the church’s responsibility in the propaganda campaign or offered reparations.
By January 2002, Offer claims his life was destroyed — he was broke, alone and was left with an unfinished movie. To keep from going under, he pitched kitchen vegetable choppers at swap meets. In the span of 5 years, Offer went from owning an enterprise with dozens of sales reps in 1997 to selling on his own in a swap meet. In April of 2002 he managed to generate enough money from swap meet sales to launch a successful infomercial campaign for his movie. It is the first movie ever to be marketed in this medium, which propelled DVD sales to almost 100,000 units in the U.S.
Offer is using his proceeds from the sales of the movie to fight the Church of Scientology in court. Offer is represented by attorney Ford Greene of Marin County, Calif., who collected almost $8.7 million from Scientology in another law suit.
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