Lawyers representing the Church of Scientology pocket millions by helping it achieve its ends. Perjury, victim-blaming, obstructing justice–it appears that any tactic is perfectly acceptable in the defense of Scientology.
“Kyle Brennan a Scientology death.”
Within several weeks of his son’s death Tom Brennan hired attorney Paul Johnson from the law firm of Johnson, Pope, Ruppel & Burns, LLP. It’s fairly obvious, however, that it wasn’t Brennan who was paying for the legal representation. How so?
Tom Brennan, at the time of Kyle’s death, was employed by the mega-wealthy Church of Scientology. His title was “Director of Public Book Sales.” Brennan’s salary for this illustrious-sounding position ranged between twenty and thirty dollars per week. He supplemented these meager Scientology-slave wages by working at various menial jobs. Brennan hawked rugs alongside a Florida interstate highway, and he also worked as a handyman for Gerald and Denise Gentile. Under Denise’s direction, Brennan mowed the Gentile lawn, shopped for the family groceries, and made various repairs to one of the “news-worthy” Pinellas County rental properties owned by Gerald. (Why was this particular property “news-worthy”? According to a front-page piece published by the Tampa Bay Tribune, Denise Miscavige Gentile, in an act of charitable kindness, had been accepting from down-on-their-luck tenants marijuana cigarettes in lieu of rent.)
So, who had the upper hand in the police investigation? Was it Detective Stephen Bohling of the Clearwater Police Department or attorney Paul Johnson from the law firm of Johnson, Pope, Ruppel & Burns, LLP?
Perhaps surprisingly, Tom Brennan—Kyle’s father and the surviving person who knows best what happened on the night of February 16, 2007—was interviewed by the police three times . . . and yet none of the notes taken by the interviewing police officers survive, none!
Brennan was first interviewed by Clearwater Police Officer Jonathan Yuen on the night of the tragedy. Yuen later claimed that he destroyed his notes. The second interview—conducted by Detective Stephen Bohling—took place on March 6, 2007. He also said that he destroyed his notes.
Is this standard operating procedure for the Clearwater Police Department?! If it is, it’s certainly not supposed to be. Should a police officer who arrives first at a potential crime scene destroy his notes? Not according to the U.S. Department of Justice handbook entitled “Eyewitness Evidence” (available online at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/178240.pdf). On page 14 it states “that a preliminary investigating officer shall obtain and accurately document and preserve information from the witness(es). Preservation and documentation . . . are necessary for a thorough preliminary investigation.” Throughout the handbook, “documentation” of information obtained, and the “preservation” of that information is stressed.
What about the documentation of Brennan’s third police interview? According to Bohling, on November 8, 2007, he requested a third Brennan interview. When Bohling contacted attorney Paul Johnson to arrange a date and time, Johnson stated that he wanted to monitor the telephone conversation between Bohling and his client. This would require a three-way call, and this police interview—if conducted from the Communications Center at the Clearwater Police Department—would have automatically been recorded. However, Detective Stephen Bohling—who by 2007, had worked the bulk of his nineteen years as a police officer with the Clearwater Police—later testified that he couldn’t figure out how to utilize the police department’s three-way call system in order to record the interview.
Why didn’t he simply ask someone for help? Is Bohling so incompetent that 1) he couldn’t remember how to use equipment he’d used before, and 2) he didn’t comprehend that somebody at the police department must have known how to operate the three-way system, and 3) he was incapable of asking for help, or was there possibly a reason that the detective didn’t want the interview recorded in the first place?
According to Bohling’s police report, attorney Paul Johnson saved the day by offering to do the three-way interview using the system at his law firm. But Bohling—in perhaps a ham-handed attempt to manipulate the information—contradicted himself in his own report. On page 29, he stated that “Attorney Johnson advised [on November 8, 2007] that he did not wish to have the interview with Thomas Brennan recorded.” And, of course, the lawyer from the Scientology-funded firm of Johnson, Pope, Ruppel & Burns, LLP got his wish. The third and final interview with Brennan went unrecorded and all the notes taken by the detective were destroyed. Any reasonable person would have to wonder why.
All of this—the lies, the mishandling of information, the obstruction of justice—came at the expense of a twenty-year-old college student whose existence—to the powerful and corrupt powers-that-be in Clearwater, Florida—was absolutely meaningless.
Grand jury investigation of Scientology from the State’s Attorney’s office.
Sep 7, 2004 … 1985: CoS attorney, Paul B. Johnson is tried in Orlando, FL, for allegedly bribing Hillsborough County commissioners to favor his client, Hubbard Construction Co. He is later defended by F. Lee Bailey.
Excerpts from the Deposition of Detective Stephen Bohling
Excerpts from the Clearwater Police Report
Excerpt from the Deposition of Officer Jonathan Yuen
Excerpt from the Deposition of Denise Miscavige Gentile
Clearwater Police Report:Gerald Gentile Interview
Excerpts from the Deposition of Thomas Brennan