On February 8, 2007, my twenty-year-old son Kyle arrived in Clearwater, Florida, to visit his Scientologist father, Tom Brennan. Kyle died in Brennan’s apartment eight days later from a gunshot wound to the head. Despite what it says in the Clearwater Police Report—that Kyle committed suicide—because of criminally mishandled police procedures it’s actually impossible to say who pulled the trigger on the weapon that killed my son. It’s also impossible to identify the weapon that was used.
It’s a horrible family tragedy, one that—thanks to all of the lying done by the Scientologists involved—is inescapably tied to the Church of Scientology and its highly questionable practices. On the night of my son’s passing, for example, Brennan told Clearwater policeman Jonathan Yuen that he had taken control of Kyle’s prescribed psychiatric medication. It was found locked in the trunk of Brennan’s vehicle. Kyle’s death took place only thirty-six hours after Tom Brennan had been given direct orders to “handle”1 Kyle by Scientology’s “Flag Service Organization.” 2 (See endnotes)
The police investigation into Kyle’s suspicious death was woefully mismanaged, replete with conflicts of interest. The Clearwater Police Report is a tissue of omissions, half-truths, and outright lies. A myriad of questions asked by Kyle’s family remain unanswered.
In February 2009 a wrongful-death lawsuit was filed in the Middle District Federal Court in Tampa, Florida. Named as defendants were:
1) Kyle’s father, Tom Brennan,
2) Denise Miscavige Gentile, Brennan’s Scientology “auditor” (or “psychotherapist”) and twin sister of Scientology’s controversial leader, David Miscavige,
3) Denise’s husband, Gerald “Jerry” Gentile,
4) The Church of Scientology, and
5) Flag Service Organization (hereafter referred to as “Flag”).
The “Knowledge Report” – One of the many documents submitted during the litigation was a “Knowledge Report” allegedly written by Jerry Gentile and dated February 17, 2007, the day after Kyle passed away. At the top of the report it names its subject matter—Tom Brennan and Kyle Brennan—and it purports to be an account of the evening of February 16. It features a word-by-word recounting of an interview between Brennan and police officer Jonathan Yuen—which it misspells as “Yen”—and a telephone call Jerry Gentile made to my home. This “Knowledge Report” is one of only a few official Scientology documents that became a part of the case file, and is now in the public domain. Far from imparting actual “knowledge,” however, it was written with an obvious agenda, and it’s chock-full of lies.
What is a “Knowledge Report”? To get an answer, Attorney Ken Dandar, the lawyer representing the Estate of Kyle Brennan, deposed Peter Mansell in 2010. Mansell, a Scientologist since 1977, became a member of the Clearwater division of Scientology’s “Office of Special Affairs” (or OSA, which handles legal matters), in 1986.3 In mid-2007 he was named director.
Mansell defined a “Knowledge Report” as something “a person would write to communicate some knowledge about a subject that the author of the report thinks is of relevance to the ethics department.” The “Ethics Department” is a branch of the Church of Scientology that, because of its power, keeps most Scientologists in fear and paranoid.4 In Scientology lingo, “ethics” relates to the survival of the organization. Anything that benefits Scientology is “ethical”—anything—and anything that’s anti-Scientology is “unethical.” A “Knowledge Report,” therefore, is a brief or memo written to Scientology’s legal arm regarding an important matter that may affect Scientology’s future.
Asked by Attorney Dandar who he reported to, Mansell responded with: “the OSA office above me in the Church of Scientology International.”
Amazingly, that’s exactly who the “Knowledge Report” pertaining to my son’s tragic death is addressed to: “OSA International,” Scientology’s international “Office of Special Affairs.” OSA International is located in Hollywood, California, and—according to Mark C. Rathbun, a former senior Scientology executive, in a sworn affidavit—is “carefully micromanaged by David Miscavige” himself. “He exercised his control through me,” affirmed Rathbun, “and Mike Rinder, Commanding officer of OSA International. . . . No OSA operation . . . could be undertaken on any matter potentially involving the name ‘David Miscavige,’ without Micavige’s fully-informed and direct authorization and direction.”
Peter Mansell also stated under oath that other such dispatches or “Knowledge Reports” were written about Kyle and Tom Brennan. Does that mean, perhaps, that David Miscavige knew of Kyle and Brennan’s situation? Interestingly—and suspiciously—these other reports were not produced as the Church of Scientology asserted priest penitent privilege under Florida Statute 90.505.
Florida Statutes 90.505
Why would the Church release one “Knowledge Report” and claim priest-penitent privilege for all the others? The answer lies within the first paragraph of this shoddy work of fiction: “On Friday, Feb 16, 2007 Denise [Miscavige Gentile] received a phone call at 12 midnight from Tom Brennan that his son had committed suicide. Tom had been over [to our house after] his work just before that and had left at 11:50 p.m. Denise and I immediately left the house and arrived at the Coachman [Building] parking lot at approximately 12:10 a.m., Feb 17, 2007.” (The Coachman Building is close to Brennan’s apartment on Cleveland Street.)
Statements given by two of the defendants themselves—Denise Miscavige Gentile and Tom Brennan—contradict the content of these opening sentences. Denise first told the police that Tom had arrived at her home, after work, at 11 p.m., remained “a short time,” then, after leaving, called her ten minutes later to say that Kyle had shot himself. The timeline Brennan gave the police is also off the “Knowledge Report’s” mark. Brennan told Attorney Ken Dandar that he left the Gentile home at 11:05 p.m. The drive to his apartment on Cleveland Street takes—at the most—only ten minutes. That places Brennan at home at approximately 11:15 p.m.
What’s apparent is that the defendants were consumed with establishing a storyline that would remove them from the vicinity of the Cleveland Street apartment at the time of Kyle’s death. In their haste they forgot a piece of documented information that’s important to that evening’s timeline—the 911 call made by Brennan after calling Denise took place several minutes after midnight, in the early morning of February 17, 2007. This gap of time—the 45 minutes, at least, between Brennan arriving home and dialing 911—begs the following questions: What really happened inside the Cleveland Street apartment that evening? And, why are so many people lying about it?
Here’s another extremely important piece of information: Twelve hours after Kyle’s death, Tom Brennan—in his first account of the previous evening’s tragedy—told step-son Scott Brennan that he had arrived home at 10:30 p.m. after having dinner with friends. This was completely omitted from the police report. And, of course, Detective Bohling didn’t question Brennan about this serious discrepancy. This account places Brennan in the apartment with Kyle while Kyle was still alive. Within one day Brennan’s story changed from “having dinner with friends” and arriving home at 10:30 to selling Scientology literature at the State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
When reading the concocted “Knowledge Report” one is amazed by Jerry Gentile’s gifted memory. He seemingly had the ability to recall minute details of a crime scene conversation. And, if we believe Gentile, he recorded the entire interview between police officer Jonathan Yuen, one of the first policemen to arrive at the scene, and Tom Brennan. But did he really?
According to Officer Yuen, his “short-short” interview with Tom Brennan was free-flowing. It started inside Brennan’s apartment, and then moved into the hallway, downstairs and outside. During Officer Yuen’s deposition he was asked if anyone was with Brennan when he interviewed him. “Nobody [was] nearby,” responded Yuen. “It was just between me and him.” Gentile, however—in his deposition and in the “Knowledge Report”—contradicted Yuen’s statement by claiming that he was standing close by, within earshot, while the entire interview took place.
Gerald Gentile’s account of the evening of February 16 and the early morning hours of February 17 changed with each retelling. When first questioned by Detective Bohling—on December 5, 2008—he stated that when he arrived at the apartment Brennan and Officer Yuen were just walking out. Gentile claimed that another policeman told him “You can’t go near the place,” meaning, “stay away from the apartment.” This statement also means, of course, that Gentile had already missed the first portion of the Yuen/Brennan interview.
The author of the “Knowledge Report,” whoever he may be, crossed a line into moral repugnancy when he fabricated the content of the conversation Jerry Gentile and I supposedly had when he called to inform me that my young son was dead. The truth is there was no conversation—there were only a few cold words from an unidentified stranger in the middle of the night.
In Jerry Gentile’s first version of the phone call—as told during his first interview with Detective Stephen Bohling—he said twice that Tom Brennan was so shook up he couldn’t dial the phone. “Yeah,” stated Gentile. “So he [Tom Brennan]—he was downstairs, uh, when he was smoking a cigarette and his hands were shaking, uh, really bad. And he said, ‘I can’t dial my phone’. . . . And I dialed the—you know, he had to tell me where the number was in the phone. Dialed the phone.”
The so-called “Knowledge Report” supposedly written by Gentile contradicts that story. In it, after Gentile offered to call Kyle’s family, it states: “Tom dials phone, gives [it] to me.” The defendants and the “Knowledge Report” ghostwriter couldn’t even get their locations straight: According to the report Gentile placed the phone call from just outside of Brennan’s apartment on Cleveland Street. Denise Miscavige Gentile, however, told the police that the call was made from the Gentile home, ten minutes away by car.
The fictional eavesdropping scenario represented in the Scientology “Knowledge Report,” along with its phony telephone conversation and its phony timeline, are simply not plausible. So, why was it written? More importantly: Why was Kyle’s death—a death that took place in Clearwater, Florida—of interest at all to Scientology’s “Office of Special Affairs” in Hollywood, California, all the way across the country?
In a 2010 deposition this very question was asked of the OSA overseer in Clearwater, Director Peter Mansell. “Why would Jerry Gentile who lives in Clearwater send a Knowledge Report to OSA Int. in California?” Mansell’s response was “no idea.”
The purpose of the fabricated “Knowledge Report” is transparent. It was a feeble attempt to correct the mistakes made by the overzealous defendants when they half-wittedly miscalculated the evening’s time sequence. Kyle’s family strongly believes that the defendants’ most accurate statements were those made closest in time to Kyle’s tragic passing. They later created alibis with alternate timelines. The “Knowledge Report” was created to back up these fictitious alibis. It’s blatantly obvious that the concocted document was created to distance Denise and the “Miscavige name” from the Brennan apartment—the scene of a crime on the evening of Kyle’s death.
So who collects the lying prize for the false “Knowledge Report”: Jerry Gentile, OSA, or perhaps the master himself?
1. “Handling,” as per Scientology, means taking care of a situation, removing a problem, and may involve a wide range of actions. And—as is witnessed by what happened to my son—it’s not as innocuous a procedure as it sounds. To Scientologists, my son was a “Suppressive Person” (or “SP”), and “an enemy of the Church,” simply because he used prescribed psychiatric medication. As Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard wrote in “Fair Game Law”: “An enemy . . . may be deprived of property or injured by any means. . . . may be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.” Brennan was ordered to remove Kyle from his apartment—“handle” him—or else face the consequences.
2. According to Scientology’s official web-site, “Flag Service Organization” (or “FSO”) located in the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, “is a religious retreat which serves as the spiritual headquarters for Scientologists from all over the world. It is the hub of the Scientology worldwide community . . . with well over 1,000 staff members.”
3. According to Mansell, the Clearwater division of OSA “is responsible for the activities outside the church itself” such as “legal matters, public relations matters and our community programs.”
4. In Scientology, the Ethics Department, and Ethics Officers, wield tremendous power. As noted by Margery Wakefield (in “Understanding Scientology” published by Carnegie Mellon University): “This is because the Ethics Officer holds the ultimate power in Scientology, the power to apply the dreaded label of ‘Suppressive Person’ and to cast a member out of Scientology and into spiritual oblivion for millions of lifetimes to come. A Scientologist will do almost anything to stay out of trouble with Ethics.”
If you have any questions contact Victoria at: vbreton2062 (at)gmail.com.
(For more information regarding the highly questionable events surrounding Kyle’s death, the extremely mishandled police investigation, and the perjured testimony given by the defendants please refer to “The Truth for Kyle Brennan” blog at vbreton2062.wordpress.com.)