But now, a woman who was never even a member of the church claims that Scientologists practically stalked her for years, and she’s suing church leader David Miscavige for allegedly orchestrating the campaign of intimidation. In her first court testimony Thursday in Texas, that woman, Monique Rathbun, described an exhaustive and comprehensive attempt by the church to make her life a living hell.
Monique said she met her now-husband Marty Rathbun on Match.com in 2005, totally unaware at first that Marty had been the second-highest-ranking Scientologist executive before leaving the church.
After he started a blog in 2009, which was critical of his former church and leader Miscavige, she began to understand what that meant.
First, an article appeared in the church’s propaganda magazine Freedom showing a photograph of the Rathbun’s Texas home. Soon, she says, she began receiving emails from anonymous accounts warning her that she should leave Marty.
She also claims she received a hand-delivered envelope at work that contained some of Marty’s darkest secrets, allegedly pulled from his “confidential” auditing files by the Church.
“They were trying to get me to leave him,” she told the court, according to former Village Voice reporter Tony Ortega, who live-blogged the testimony.
And when that didn’t work, the harassers took aim at Monique.
One day, she was shocked to find that someone had started several smear websites about her — a common Scientology tactic. The sites claimed, “I was really a man. I’d had a sex operation, which is why we couldn’t have a baby,” Monique testified. “And at that time, we were trying to have a baby, and I wondered, how did they know so much about us?”
Disturbingly, she would soon find out. On April 18, 2011, a group of four to six people known as the “squirrel busters” appeared in the Rathbun’s neighborhood and began confronting them, sometimes up to 20 times in a single day, for 199 days straight.
Monique told the court that she’d asked the group what it would take to get them to stop coming to the Rathbuns house and yelling at them, and they allegedly replied that her husband needed to stop criticizing the Church on his blog and in the wider media.
Even when Marty was out of town, however, the harassment didn’t stop. “I was very scared,” Monique told the court. “One, that they knew he was gone, and that they always knew what we were doing. Obviously, he was there to let me know that they knew I was alone.”
Soon, she found that they had leased a home on her street that gave them a direct view to her home.
When even that didn’t work, the intimidation techniques got more absurd. Monique received a sex toy in the mail at her work. Another day, a receptionist at her work received flowers that had a risqué message signed with Monique’s name.
She asked the court, “How do you explain something like that to your coworkers and your peers? How do you do that?”
In the fall of 2012, the Rathbuns decided to move, but their peace was short-lived. They soon discovered that a camera had been placed on a tree behind their house, equipped with an antenna that broadcast the footage.
“Then, I thought, you can’t keep running,” Monique told the court. “At some point you just know you have the right to live your life.”
And so, she filed a lawsuit — not to target the church per se, she says, but simply to get the harassment to stop.
“We’re not here about their theological or religious beliefs,” her attorney said in opening statements. “The court is not going to be asked to make any decisions about that stuff. It’s about a law-abiding Texas citizen’s right to live in peace.”
In their own opening statement, the Church argued that Scientology leader David Miscavige was not behind the surveillance efforts, and should not be included as a defendant. Further, they claimed, the COS has more than enough money to give the Rathbuns a settlement, and their lawsuit is just persecution against the church.
Stay tuned to RadarOnline.com for the latest developments in the case.