Scientology's® Assault of
Paulette Cooper


Paulette Cooper:

I am being sued now repeatedly by individual Scientologists, who, in some cases, I don't even know, suits for distributing literature at functions I didn't even attend. Part of the purpose in harassing people with law suits is to keep deposing them and preventing you from writing or making a living and making you show up at legal depositions. I've been deposed for nineteen days total since this started, with four more coming up in a couple of weeks.

There has also been some other harassment in the past six months or so: continued calls to me, calls to my family. The Scientologists find out what the person's "buttons" [sensitive spots] are, as they put it, and the way to get to them. And they know that a way to get to me is to harass my parents...

They've put out libelous publications about me; they've sent letters saying that I was soon to be imprisoned... attempts have been made to put me in prison. They've sent false reports about me to the Justice Department, the District Attorney's Office, the IRS. As you know, government agencies have to investigate any complaints that they get. So, then, Scientology sends out press releases that I am under investigation by the Attorney General's Office, I am under investigation by the DA, and so on.

They have put detectives on me; they have put spies on me. A few months ago, they put an attempted spy on my mother to try to get information about me from her and to fix me up with the woman's son....Somebody cancelled my plane to Florida about a month ago, and that ;is the third time that happened to me this year... I'd like to say that this was a very good year compared to the previous years...

My basic interest is as a writer; I like investigative things...

I went in and took their [Scientology] weekend course.

During the time, I wandered away from the group where they were teaching the particular, well, TRs, as they call them, and I came upon a list of people, who -- I don't remember for sure if it was a Fair Game order, but I think it was because these people were being declared enemies of mankind.

I remember one woman's name was on there and it declared her an enemy of mankind for pushing five men down a flight of stairs. And how could she do that? It just didn't ring true.

And I decided to contact some of these people when I came home. And I think I took about five names, the five top people, and every one of them had an unlisted number, disconnected phone.

Well this was in 1968, and the people Scientology was attracting were twenty-two, twenty-three years old.

And just by chance, a whole group of people are not going to have five unlisted numbers unless there's a reason for people to unlist their number.

So, it began to bother me that, you know, was this so-called respectable Church perhaps harassing people? And in that one weekend, I had noted that they had lied about certain things, and I wondered about a church lying to people. And I decided to look in the library and see if I could get any information, any book. And I discovered that all the stories had been clipped out of every single magazine pertaining to Scientology, and I wondered whether this Church was, perhaps, possibly stealing things.

Well, I spent the next couple of years doing research into Scientology.

And my first article came out in December of 1969. That's also the month that I received my first death threat.

And then a number of mysterious events occurred, both then and during the time within the next year and a half until my book came out.

I was followed on several occasions; we found a phone tap on my phone; I was being multiply sued already at that time. Oh, people kept calling me and trying to take me out, and it seemed like people were trying to get to me.

And this went on for four unpleasant years, including four lawsuits, one of which was for somebody else's book. And when that happened, I got really annoyed. And I became the first person to sue them for harassment.

It was actually shocking to them because Hubbard had written that an enemy of -- that no one would ever sue, that they had too much to hide and that people were criminals (whoever attacked the Church), and, therefore, we were going to just wither away and die....

Well, about October of 1972, they started a big campaign to finally silence me or attempt to stop me. That month I received the second of what was ultimately to be five anonymous, absolutely disgusting smear letters about me. This particular one called me a part-time prostitute... [Brainworm's note: in another such letter, mailed anonymously to the other tenants in Cooper's apartment building, Cooper was accused of being a child molester with V.D. This is a typical example of kind of Big Lie character assassination for which the "Church" of $Scientology is infamous.]

During this same period of time, there were a large number of attempts to get into my apartment, which was on the ground floor of the building that I lived in at the time; it was not well guarded, and I was quite concerned. I received a tremendous number of really disgusting calls, and I remember one day counting eleven calls...

I finally decided that I was going to move to a high security apartment, even though I really could not afford to do so at the time. I moved on December 15th. The person who took over the apartment was my second cousin. We bore a physical resemblance because we're about the same age and she was very petite, and we both had short brown hair at the time.

And a series of mysterious circumstances occurred. The important thing was that she opened up the door to someone who had flowers and rang my bell. And I was no longer living there, although my name was still on the door.

When Joy opened the door to get these flowers, he unwrapped the flowers and there was a gun in it.

And he took out the gun and he put it at Joy's temple and he cocked the gun, and we don't know whether it misfired, whether it was empty and it was a scare technique, what happened, but somehow, the gun did not go off.

And he started choking her, and she was able to break away and she started to scream. And the person ran away.

And so she called a detective and he said, "It's a very wild attack because there doesn't seem to be any motive for it." There was no attempted rape, there was no attempted robbery, and why should somebody just suddenly try to kill her...

About a week or two later at my apartment, I received a visit from the FBI. And they informed me that the public relations person from Scientology had claimed that she had received a couple of bomb threats and asked -- and had named me as somebody likely to send bomb threats.

I didn't take the whole thing very seriously, and the FBI asked me if I would mind being fingerprinted. And I said that I would not, and I was fingerprinted.

[Later] I was called for a grand jury....I didn't think this was anything very serious and did not bother to retain a lawyer, had very little money because I had used all my money to move to this more expensive, higher-security apartment.

And when I got there, they told me that I was the target of an investigation into the bomb threats. And I went and had to hire a lawyer, and every lawyer wanted -- the least we could get was a five-thousand dollar retainer, which, in those years, was like paying ten thousand dollars, you know, today. And to suddenly have to pay this sum of money and find out that you're in serious trouble....

Finally, I went before the grand jury, and I tried to answer every question as truthfully as I could...

They kept asking me again and again, "Did you ever see this letter? Did you ever touch it? Do you know who might have? And I said, incidentally, "Yes," that I suspect they might have confrontations in the press.

And they asked me to step outside the room. And when I came in, I knew I was in very serious trouble, and they asked me what my social security number was, whether I was on drugs, and did I realize what I had said so far. And again, they asked me the same serious of questions.

And they said, "Well, Miss Cooper, if you've never touched this letter before, could you tell us how your fingerprints got on it?"

I felt like a grand piano had just hit me on the head. I -- I fainted sitting up; the whole room just turned upside down and I didn't know what to do. And the, of course, the lawyers wanted more money.

And on May -- let's see, May 19th, 1973 -- I was indicted on the three counts of sending bomb threats through the mail; two counts were for two letters. One was for perjury for saying before the grand jury that I hadn't done it and that I thought this [Scientology] public relations person might have done it. On May 29th, ten days later, I was arrested and arraigned.

The next eight months were a terrible, terrible nightmare in my life that I still feel sometimes that I suffer from to this day. I had fifteen years in jail over my head and fifteen thousand dollars in fines. I was petrified about going to jail, more so, perhaps, because of my small frame and the fact that I heard that women's federal prisons were rough places.

I risked having my career totally destroyed because -- and I had been successful. And as a freelance writer, what editor is ever going to give an assignment to someone who's been indicted or convicted for sending bomb threats to someone they opposed?

I was very concerned about the indictment and the trial coming out in the newspapers. The public does not know the difference between indict and convict, and they think that if you're on trial for something, you must have done it or where there's smoke there's fire. I was left with the terrible public humiliation that every person I ever knew in New York would read the details of the trial and these accusations.

I was most concerned about my parents, who had adopted me when I was six years old, and how humiliating it would be for them and their friends to have to explain and to go through a trial like this.

During this period of time, I went through a terrible, terrible depression and a number of my friends, which I can't blame them for, did not stick by me. I was depressing to be with. I had been seeing a man for five years and had intended to marry him, and he left me as a result of my depression.

I was released on my own recognizance.

I went through a period of very, very acute anxiety....I couldn't sleep till about four in the morning and I'd wake up about six with my stomach just in my throat and worrying about what the next day would bring and what was going to happen at the hearing. And this went on for eight months, and I was just totally exhausted, sleeping two to four hours a day...

All the money I had had gone to the lawyers, and I went into debt to try to continue to pay for them. The -- in the end, just the main lawyers cost nineteen thousand dollars.....

I developed, for the first time in my life, acute agoraphobia; I couldn't leave the house. I think that this really started with this attempted murder that I felt had been intended for me...

And meanwhile, during this period of time, there was a friend, a new friend, who I met under somewhat mysterious circumstances, but he was very, very, helpful. And I obtained an apartment for him in my building, and he did some of the food shopping that I could not get out and do. And his name was Jerry Levin...

The worst period of time was approximately two weeks before the trial. My lawyers informed me that, with a federal case, it was a ninety-five percent chance of conviction. They gave me the good news that, for the trial, they wanted my parents to be seated in the front row and watch the entire proceedings. And I kept saying, "You can't do that to them. It's going to be awful enough for them to read it in the paper."...

They felt that one circumstance that might get me acquitted was the mutually close relationship with my parents.

On top of that, going through some Scientology material I had obtained, there was the name of Jerry Levin. Now, I felt horribly betrayed, but at the same time I simply did not want to believe it. I was very naive, and his name was a very common name, especially in a city like New York.

Meanwhile, we had tried every single move possible to get the trial stopped. And -- but I was in a very very nervous state and it was impossible for me to be tested correctly. And we went to some doctors who said that they felt the only thing that might work would be... sodium pentothal or "truth serum."...

So, the problem was we couldn't find a doctor who would give me a sodium pentothal test because, by this time, I weighed eighty-three pounds; I had started at about ninety-eight. And it became very, very dangerous to go and put somebody under, as if for an operation, and do that.

And I just said I didn't care if the... sodium pentothal killed me because, if I had to stand trial for what I didn't do and humiliate everyone and go through this humiliation, that I would just as soon be dead anyway.

And we finally did find a doctor two weeks before the trial who gave me a sodium pentothal test. I was unconscious for seven hours.

I don't know what was said during that [time].

I do know that, when I came to, my mother was standing there and I said, "What happened? What did I say?"

And she just said, "It's O.K. It's all over. There won't be a trial."

The government wanted to save face because they don't like to admit that they've made a mistake. So, they said that they... would postpone the trial, but they would not actually drop the charges at that time.

The government did not drop the charges and, for two years after all this, I still had to worry on a daily basis whether on day there was going to be a trial and all of these things that I was afraid of, the prison and so on, was going to happen...

On October 12, 1977, the FBI called me. Now, remember, this was a five-year period that I had never been able to prove my innocence; the government considered me a criminal. I had a, quote, record, end quote.

And the FBI called out of the blue and said, "We have just received evidence that you were innocent of those original charges."

I put down the phone and cried....