Scientology can seem more silly than scary, with its zany mythology, made-up lingo, and Tom Cruise. But it was no joke when the group’s leaders set out to destroy investigative journalist Paulette Cooper‘s life.
In the new issue of Byline magazine, a publication of the New York Press Club , Cooper for the first time tells the full story of her 17-year battle against the followers of L. Ron Hubbard.
It began in 1968 when she wrote a story, “The Scandal of Scientology,” for Queen, a British magazine. Despite receiving a death threat, Cooper decided to write a book on the topic. “I was naive and had no idea of the horrors that lay in store for me,” she writes.
A series of lawsuits by the Church of Scientology convinced the publisher of Cooper’s book to issue an apology and a recall, but the forces she had unleashed were not satisfied. First, Cooper discovered her phone was being tapped. Then, her cousin was assaulted by a man who, posing as a flower-deliveryman, gained entrance to her apartment and pulled a pistol on her. (The gun jammed.) When Cooper moved to a more secure building, someone sent 300 of her neighbors an anonymous letter claiming she was a prostitute and had molested a child.
It got worse.