The following message was posted to alt.religion.scientology in July 1996. I pulled this copy off DejaNews; while I have left content intact, I have removed any headers and HTML tags DejaNews has added, as well as adding my own tags for aesthetic purposes.
Disclaimer: I do not endorse the views herein. In my opinion, this post is typical of Scientology character assassination: sensationalistic, emotionally loaded and designed to make its targets look as bad as possible. Let the reader beware.
Subject: WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO FACTNET?
From: Noyem Akopian [no email address given in header - Scott]
I am an interested observer and was a supporter of FACTNET - until its demise. Due to recent events I have decided to express my thoughts on the current situation with regard to FACTNET and ars in general. These are my opinion only and represent information through various contacts I have overseas and in the US.
ARS has gone from a forum where both sides of the Scientology issue was discussed, debated, criticized and defended, to a forum in which the participants have become a pack of sharks who, in the absence of food on which to prey have turned on one another, and, having drawn blood, are engaged in a mindless feeding frenzy.
This metamorphosis came about after the few remaining Scientologists who were participating in the news group gradually dropped out of sight and fell silent. Perhaps, finally grasping the situation at hand, the Scientologists realized the true achilles heel of ars which is this: Lacking any Scientologist participants to vilify, debate or attack, the critics, many of whom were not playing with a full deck in the first place, no longer had a responsive target and thus turned on each other in order to fulfill some uncontrollable destructive impulse.
Has ars become a newsgroup for nut cases who have nothing better to do than to vent their spleen in cyberspace? Even Steve Fishman, who in a recent memorable posting which will go down in ars history, declared the equivalent of internet thermo-nuclear war on Dennis Erlich.
And what has become of FACTNET, which has hardly been heard of since they were raided almost a year ago?
The following account of what happened to FACTNET behind the scenes is compiled from different sources.
QUESTION: What do Arnaldo Lerma, Robert Vaughn Young, Edward Lottick, the US neo-NAZI movement, the Cult Awareness Network and FACTNET have in common?
ANSWER: Willis Carto, a man who has been described by the Anti-Defamation League as "the most important professional anti-semite in the United States."
Let me explain:
In February 1994, FACTNET associate, Robert Vaughn Young, whose income apparently derives from attorneys defending FACTNET and the now bankrupt Cult Awareness Network, was secretly photographed attending a meeting with the well-known neo-Nazi, Willis Carto. The purpose of Young's meeting was evident: when you are fighting a battle with an enemy as formidable as Scientology, you must be willing to sleep with the devil to gain the advantage. Young was locked in a mother of a battle with Scientology and in matters of war, the enemy's enemy is my friend. Young, who was being smeared as a pornographer, kiddie diddler and an unfaithful husband, took drastic action and forged an alliance with a man who was known the world over as the leading NAZI apologist.
However, Young did not count on being photographed at the Carto meeting and he soon found he had a hot potato on his hands. Young had made some important business contacts in Germany, where both he and Carto have strong connections. He was soliciting writing jobs from Bild, Die Woche and Der Spiegel and was attempting to get himself hired on as an expert witness in cases in Hamburg and against the Minister of Labor, Norbert Blum. Unexpectedly, Young was faced with photographs of his meeting with Carto upon his arrival in Germany as well as literature which depicted Young as a neo-NAZI which was being distributed by the German branch of Scientology.
For those who are not familiar with Carto, the Anti-Defamation League has described Carto as "the most important and professional anti-semite in the United States." Yaroni Svoray, an Israeli Jew who spent nine months undercover amongst neo-NAZIs in Germany tracing their connections back to the United States said, "The most notorious NAZI in the world is not German but Willis Carto." Scientology has made this fact well known.
In Germany, distributing NAZI propaganda, giving the NAZI salute or denying the holocaust took place are all crimes which get prosecuted. Therefore much of the literature and influence in the neo-NAZI groups in Germany is allegedly imported from the United States and Carto no doubt has great influence.
For Young this very embarrassing photograph suddenly became a major concern. Aside from his association with FACTNET, Young and his wife Stacy had financial ties to the now defunct Cult Awareness Network, which was recently put out of business after being hit last year with a multi-million dollar verdict for assisting to arrange the kidnapping of a Pentecostal Church member for religious deprogramming. Both of these groups (FACTNET and CAN) are bitter enemies with Scientology and because of Young's indiscretion, the Scientologists began to create the image of these two groups as extremist fringe groups with neo-NAZI leanings.
For the Youngs, who were paid by CAN to attend and speak at their national convention in Cleveland and were paid to file declarations in several CAN cases and who were on the payroll of CAN Board Member Edward Lottick, this represented a serious threat to their future income. Lottick, a medical doctor, had also given FACTNET money to assist them to get off the ground and it is unlikely he would appreciate being accused of supporting someone tied in with the ideology of a Willis Carto. This Carto situation became such a concern that one of Young's German associates, Ursula Caberta, in February 1995, had to ask Young to make it unambiguously clear that Young would have nothing more to do with Carto and that he had severed his ties with Carto. Caberta needed Young to do this in order to handle credibility problems which she would undoubtedly have in Germany if this connection became broadly known.
Enter Arnie Lerma.
Young's indiscretion with Willis Carto threatened not only his own livelihood, but the reputation of government officials in Germany who have already been tagged by Scientology as suffering from a NAZI-like mentality and the reputations of the groups which were taking the brunt of the Scientology war machine: CAN and FACTNET. But Young's incident with Carto was nothing when compared to the inept bungling which was done by Arnie Lerma. Young merely acted as a Public Relations referral point and a paid witness for FACTNET. Lerma however was brought onto the FACTNET board of directors by Lawrence Wollersheim in July 1995 and as the facts will show, maintained an even closer tie to the radical right and Willis Carto.
Over the course of the next few weeks, Lerma all but destroyed the entire four to five years work which Lawrence and Penny had put into building up the most complete electronic library of anti-Scientology material in existence and gave Scientology the weapon which it needed to bring down FACTNET and Wollersheim in one lawsuit.
Can you imagine the shock experienced by Wollersheim when Lerma posted the Fishman declaration attaching the OT levels, pulled in a raid on himself and following that caused the raids at both Wollersheim's and Penny's homes? Up to that point, FACTNET was winning the war with Scientology but, because of this incredibly stupid move, the whole course of the war changed.
After exhausting FACTNET's million dollar insurance policy, Lerma proceeded to lose the copyright part of his case; game, set, and match which set the stage for the same scenario in the FACTNET case in Denver.
Nearly as quickly as the raid on Lerma had occurred, it was over. The evidence against him for infringment was so solid that the judge, who up to that point looked like she would fry the Scientologists, ruled there was nothing from Lerma that disputed the fact he had infringed and found for the Scientology plaintiffs.
In an attempt to gain leniency from the court, Lerma wrote to Judge Brinkema explaining that during the raid, someone had put LSD on his toothbrush so that Lerma would be unable to properly function during the first of the proceedings. The judge did not buy it and it only served to make Lerma appear to be a lunatic.
Much to everyone's surprise, including Lawrence, Lerma added insult to injury when it was revealed that he had been involved in various right wing "patriot" causes. That would not have been so bad in and of itself but like Young, Lerma is also an associate of none other than Willis Carto.
In an e-mail of 4 Sept 1995, sent to our naive friend from South Africa, Kim Baker, who later turned it over to the cult, Lerma made some revelatory statements concerning his connections with Carto and his front groups. Lerma, boasted to Baker that he had spoke to a room of 175 people when addressing a Carto group. He told Baker, "We have the full support of Willis Carto, and the 'patriot' movement in the United States."
Lerma was so ignorant of the position he had put FACTNET in that he took no real steps to cover up his association with Carto. After the raid in August 1995, Lerma was noted in Carto's Liberty Lobby newspaper "The Spotlight" as having attended the Liberty Lobby 40th Anniversary Convention where he was a featured panelist. Liberty Lobby is a group referred to by the Anti-Defamation League as "the wealthiest and one of the most active anti-semitic organizations in the United States."
Lerma tried to put on a good face to Baker (then also a FACTNET director) over her concerns of having such close links to groups involved in neo-NAZI activity. He told Baker, "The Spotlight is purging its advertiser list of all questionable groups, neo-NAZIs, white supremacists, etc."
And, in a backhanded anti-semitic remark he pointed out to Baker that "Some of the ads [in The Spotlight] are placed by ADL just to make The Spotlight deadagentable."
Lerma, in a rare moment of restraint told Baker in the same e-mail message, "I suggest that we don't promote my relationship with Willis Carto."
Surprisingly, Lerma has remained a FACTNET director. There has been no statement of disavowal from FACTNET as to both Young's and Lerma's connections to Willis Carto.
Even after Lerma lost his copyright case, FACTNET has made no move to remove him from that position. This is the first thing that Lawrence should have done when he learned that Lerma had posted the copyrighted material to the internet, or certainly it should have been done following the raid on Lerma's premises. This would have disassociated FACTNET from Lerma, may have prevented the raid on Lawrence and Penny and not have put them in a defensive position in this case where one of their own directors (Lerma) has already gotten a judgement against himself for copyright infringement. This will not look good to the Denver court.
What happens if there is another copyright loss in the Denver court? Where does that put FACTNET and Lawrence? What if the court issues heavy fines for the copyright infringement? What will happen to Lawrence's judgement in California if he loses in Denver and is fined heavily?
Lerma's move was the single biggest mistake I have seen on the part of the critics and was a major cause of the collapse of the effort which was made by FACTNET.
Created January 26, 1998 (Dead Ron Day) by Scott McClare. Revision A02 February 9, 1998