Scientologist Since 1982, Filmmaker Vince Offer is Suing the Church of Scientology for Being Labeled a ‘Criminal’ and Persecuted for His Movie’s Artistic Expression, Among Other Things
LOS ANGELES, May 11 /PRNewswire/ — Ever since late night infomercials ran on national cable stations for “The Underground Comedy Movie,” co-starring Michael Clarke Duncan, Slash, Gena Lee Nolin and Joey Buttafuoco, the movie has become a household name. LA Weekly crowned it as “The single most offensive movie ever made!” And it definitely delivers the goods. So much so, the filmmaker was kicked out and branded a “Criminal” by the Church of Scientology.
In 1997, while in production on his movie, church officials allegedly orchestrated a meticulously covert propaganda campaign against Offer. To help galvanize church staff to get of rid Offer, illegally, selected shots of the movie were taken from a rough cut copy, placed them in a report accompanied by scarring comments and distributed within the church.
After setting the stage, 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,” according to Offer 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 reported a statement informing, “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.
Celebrity Center staff executives 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.”
– The Selling of a Church: The Courting of Celebrities
This 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.” To add insult to injury, 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 of Offer and general Scientology members, thereby sealing his fate as an outcast. Offer 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,” 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’s life was destroyed, as he was now broke, alone and was left with an unfinished movie. To keep from going under, he undertook his inherent marketing abilities and 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, against all odds, 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 US.
Offer is using his proceeds from the sales of the movie to fight the Church in court. Armed with evidence and the passion of obtaining redress for injustice, he has pursued an unrelenting quest to expose the human cruelty and destructive practices committed, still to this day, by the Church of Scientology’s leadership helmed by David Miscavage.
The preliminary case discussion starts in LA judicial court June 24, 2004. Offer is represented by attorney Ford Greene of Marin County, California, a recent finalist for the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice 2003 Trial Lawyer of the Year for collecting almost $8.7 million from Scientology in a case they swore “Not One Thin Dime for Wollersheim” the man they drove into insanity and then punished with fair game.