Judge Robert Beach
Tampa, Florida — Blockbuster charges in a Federal Suit involving the Church of Scientology. It involves accusations of impropriety and some of the most respected members of the judiciary and legal profession.
The allegations are coming from the former number-two man in the organization, and involve what he says is a multi-million dollar cover-up of the death of a woman in Scientology care.
The woman at the center of it all is Lisa McPherson, who died in 1995 after being involved in a minor traffic accident.
At the time of the accident, McPherson who was a Church of Scientology member said she needed psychiatric help. Instead, the church members took her to the Ft. Harrison Hotel to care for her.
Just 17 days later, Lisa McPherson was dead.
McPherson’s death spawned emotional protests near Scientology headquarters in Downtown Clearwater, a lawsuit from her family – as some charged they let her die and watched her die – and criminal prosecution from the Pinellas State Attorney’s office.
The Church was charged with a second-degree felony for practicing medicine without a license, and abuse of a disabled adult.
However, the charges were dropped after Pinellas Medical Examiner Joan Wood changed the cause of death from unknown to accidental.
Marty Rathbun, the former number-two man in Scientology, alleges that the organization showered gifts on the Medical Examiner’s attorney, Jeff Goodis, to influence her to change the cause of death.
Once that happened, the criminal case fell apart.
In addition, Rathbun says the Church hired another attorney, former prosecutor Lee Fugate, to have illegal Ex parte meetings with judges involved in the case.
Rathbun says,” Listen. Lee Fugate, his value was to schmooze. As a matter of fact, that’s what David Miscavige and myself used to say. Let’s get lee to schmooze; let’s get Lee to schmooze.”
In the suit, Rathbun contends the Church of Scientology spent at least $30 million to get the charges dropped, and mitigates the damages in the civil suit.
Jeff Goodis denies the charges and Attorney Lee Fugate says he can’t comment on a federal suit, but it would be shocking to believe that some of Pinellas’ top judges could be involved in illegal activity like this.
However, Ken Dandar, the attorney who represented McPherson’s family against the church, says, “Maybe Mr. Rathbun doesn’t know what he is talking about, and maybe it’s all his imagination. I don’t think so…”
Dandar says the organization has come after him. He says attorney Wally Pope and Judge Robert Beach have illegally claimed the settlement papers in the McPherson case.
Papers that included what’s called a “practice restriction” so Dandar could never sue Scientology again.
Dandar adds,” If what I’ve been told is correct, I will go after the people who have corrupted the system, and I will go after the members of the system that have been corrupted.”
We couldn’t reach Judge Robert Beach or any other of the Judges named in the lawsuit.
Attorney Wally Pope told us he wouldn’t comment to the media and no one from the Church of Scientology returned our calls.
But, late Friday, Pope filed a lawsuit on behalf of Scientology to have all of Marty Rathbun’s testimony thrown out.
There is an emergency hearing in Federal Court Monday.
Mark Rathbun Deposition Excerpts
Investigator Ray Emmons
Merryday’s Ruling; Ignoring the plaintiffs evidence.
When Ken was forced off of Kyle’s case I pleaded with Luke to help me. The judge had given me two weeks to find a new attorney. If I wasn’t successful he’d dismiss the case. I suspected that’s what he was hoping for. A convenient way to unburden himself from a contentious case ( leaving me alone to fend for myself against a ruthless and vindictive adversary). I pleaded with Luke to take the case.
“Perhaps Merryday, to gain a better understanding of the defendants should have first familiarized himself with some of the basic tenets of Scientology.”
In January 1994, U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday was arrested for DUI near his home in Palatka. A Florida State trooper saw Merryday driving erratically near construction on U.S. 17. Merryday, then a federal judge for two years, declined interviews but offered an unambiguous statement after he was released from jail.
“I made an inexcusable and dangerous mistake in judgment, for which I accept full responsibility,” he said. “I apologize to my family and friends, as well as the public, for this incident.”
Merryday vowed that his first offense would be his last. He said he was “committed unalterably to remaining free at all times from any and all intoxicants.”
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year’s probation, ordered to pay $688 in fines, perform 50 hours of community service, attend DUI school and give up his driver’s license for six months.
Should a judge with no self-control with his addiction be allowed to make life-altering decisions of others?