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Return to the main Scientology index   In 1995, a Scientologist was convicted of sexually molesting his young stepdaughters. His wife stated, under oath, that the "Church" of Scientology ordered her not to report it.

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State of Florida v. Donald Anthony Strawn
Excerpts from deposition

      The following document contains excerpts from a legal deposition taken in the case of Florida v. Donald Anthony Strawn. Its importance lies in the fact that in it, the deponent (Strawn's wife at the time) accuses the Church of Scientology of recommending that a capital felony not be reported to the police.

      Important parts of the deposition pertaining to this fact have been given additional emphasis with boldface. Because the victims were minors, their full names have been stricken from this document.

      Tilman Hausherr posted these excerpts on the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology with some annotations. I have included most of these annotations as footnotes, and added some of my own as well.


 4               That's all I remember about the conversation

 5     in the bedroom.  I told, told, told him as I was

 6     leaving, leaving out of the house, that he had to be

 7     gone.  That he had to leave.  That I was going to the

 8     church.  That if he was not gone by the time I got back

 9     that I would call the police.

10          Q.   Did you take the girls with you?

11          A.   No, I didn't.

12          Q.   How long were you gone?

13          A.   Probably about thirty or forty-five minutes.

14     I got down to the church and I went in to see the

15     chaplain at the Church of Scientology.  After I calmed

16     down a bit I called the house.  I realized I left my

17     kids.  And I tried to call the house and there was no

18     answer.

19               I called back and M---[1] was upset.  She

20     answered the phone and she was crying and she said that

21     A----[2] ran away.  I went and jumped in the car and I

22     broke every speed limit between the Church of

23     Scientology[3] and my house.

24          Q.   Had you met with the chaplain yet?

25          A.   I saw somebody.  It was an assistant chaplain


 1     or something.  And I was actually in the office when I

 2     was calling home.  I got back home and A---- was at

 3     home.  I got the girls and I left.

 4          Q.   Was Tony[4] there or was he gone?

 5          A.   Yes, he was packing his belongings.

 6          Q.   Did you have any further discussion with him?

 7          A.   No.  I didn't even see him.  He was in the

 8     room, in our bedroom, with, with the door closed,

 9     packing.

10          Q.   Did A---- at the time tell you what had been

11     going on?

12          A.   That day.

13          Q.   At that time?

14          A.   Yes, she told me.  M--- told me as well.

15          Q.   When is it that A---- told you?

16          A.   You have to remember that my life at that

17     time was a total blur.  I don't remember dates or

18     times.  I know that I discussed the matter with my

19     children.  The reason I waited six weeks to turn him

20     in, the reason why I waited six weeks to turn him in

21     was because of the Church of Scientology.

22          Q.   How long have you been a Scientologist?

23          A.   I'm not a Scientologist, now.  When I met

24     Tony I was introduced to the Church of Scientology.  At

25     that time I became a Scientologist.


 1          Q.   Were the children also?

 2          A.   I guess you'll have to ask them.  They did

 3     take some courses with the Church of Scientology.

 4          Q.   When you say you "became one," what does that

 5     involve, becoming a Scientologist?

 6          A.   Well, you just have to make a decision that

 7     you're going to be a Scientologist and they have

 8     different technologies and you read and apply them to

 9     your life.  And sometimes you take courses at the

10     church.  Sometimes you get auditing which is similar to

11     counseling.

12          Q.   Okay.  So you wanted to go through the

13     church?

14          A.   I had to.  I had to go through the church.

15     The Church of Scientology has a tenant to the best of

16     my knowledge and the way I understood it, if you have

17     any legal matter with a fellow Scientologist you're to

18     take it to the Church of Scientology.

19               If you don't, you risk being what is called

20     "Declared" or thrown out of the Church of Scientology.

21     Now that matters nothing to me.  But what did matter to

22     me was the fact that I was working as a director in a

23     company, and the owners of the company are

24     Scientologists.  In fact, many of the employees, the

25     majority of employees, are Scientologists.


 1          Q.   What company?

 2          A.   Roberts Cefail[5] and Associates.

 3          Q.   How long have you been working there?

 4          A.   At that time, three years.

 5          Q.   Okay.  So you thought your job might be in

 6     jeopardy?

 7          A.   My job was in jeopardy because what happens

 8     is if you're declared or thrown out of the church then

 9     other Scientologist cannot be in touch with you.  They

10     can't talk to you.  They can't have, you know, have

11     anything to do with you or they risk being thrown out

12     of the church.

13          Q.   Had you ever had any legal matters before --

14          A.   No.

15          Q.   -- that went through the church?

16          A.   No.

17          Q.   Okay.  So how did you proceed with that?

18          A.   For six weeks I tried to get him thrown out

19     of the church so that I could turn him in without any

20     repercussions.  I worked with the Church of

21     Scientology's legal office.  It's called the Office of

22     Special Affairs or OSA, O-S-A.

23               I worked with the Church of Scientology for

24     quite some time.  Many days I was down there, as a

25     matter of fact, trying to get them to take some kind


 1     of action.  The Church of Scientology recommended that

 2     I not turn him in.

 3          Q.   Why?

 4          A.   Because they could handle it.  They could

 5     handle his aberrations.  They could handle what made

 6     him do this.  They said that if I, if I turned him in

 7     my children would be taken away from me by HRS because

 8     HRS is always looking for a criminal.  They told me

 9     that Tony would be stuck to me for lifetimes because I

10     had done this, because I had turned him in.  They told

11     me that he would be turned over to the "psyches," or

12     the psychiatrists.  I was very manipulated during that

13     period of time.

14          Q.   Had you told the children not to discuss this

15     with anyone else?

16          A.  I may have told them not to discuss it with

17     their friends.

18          Q.   Mm-hmm.  Were they involved in any kind of

19     counseling?

20          A.   Not at that time.

21          Q.   Anywhere?

22          A.   Not at that time.

23          Q.   Did the counselor or Scientologist try to get

24     you and Tony together to discuss this?

25          A.   Yeah.


 1          Q.   What are, what do they do there?

 2          A.   I think there is a chaplain's meeting and I

 3     think this is the most cruel thing that anybody can

 4     ever do.  I wanted to go ahead and get the divorce

 5     because I wouldn't be contested.  I knew if I locked

 6     him up he would be contesting and I wanted the divorce.

 7               So I arranged through the chaplain the

 8     procedure for the divorce.  And in the Church of

 9     Scientology you have the documents drawn up and then

10     you go into the church and both parties sign.  And

11     there's what is called a "chaplain's hearing."  And

12     they sit there and, and discuss disposition of

13     properties: Custody issues, child support issues, et

14     cetera.

15               I went and I was trying to get my divorce

16     papers signed.  And the church and the people who were

17     dealing with it, Chaplain Sergio[6], I don't remember the

18     last name.  He, he couldn't find Tony.  He didn't know

19     where to get in touch with Tony.  The Ethics Officer

20     didn't know where to get in touch with Tony.  So I had

21     to actually go over where he was working and tell him

22     he had to meet me at the church.  I went to the church

23     to get him to sign the divorce papers and I sat there

24     and I pretended like everything was rosy.

25               I asked him about M--- and what he had done


 1     with M---.  And he told me yes, it was true.  And that

 2     he had written up everything.  And that he had turned

 3     it all into the Ethics Officer and I could get copies

 4     of the report so I would know what was really going on

 5     in my house, so I could handle my kids.

 6               I'm sorry, but this son-of-a-bitch ain't got

 7     a clue as to what he did to my girls.

 8          Q.   Did you ever get a hold of that?

 9          A.   No, I didn't.  I didn't want to.  I don't

10     want any justifications for this.  There are no

11     justifications for what he did to my kids.

12          Q.   So what happened at this hearing then?

13          A.   Well, we sat down and after -- I mean there

14     were some pretty emotional things that went on.  I was

15     pretty angry.  We, basically what occurred was we

16     decided what property was going to stay mine, what

17     property was going to be his, and what I was to bring

18     to the church to give to him after the divorce.  And

19     then he signed on the dotted line.

20          Q.   Okay.  Was there any discussion of the

21     allegations at that time?

22          A.  Yes.  When I asked him about M--- and what he

23     had done to M---.

25          Q.   Was this done in front of the others?

25          A.   This was done in front of the chaplain.


 1     Q.   So, any discussion about any action that you were

 2     going to take regarding this?

 3          A.   No, actually, because I didn't want him to

 4     know that I was going to take any action because I

 5     wanted him to sign the divorce papers.

 6          Q.   Okay.  After you got the divorce papers

 7     signed did you continue to participate in the

 8     Scientologist activities?

 9          A.   At, at that point I was still trying to get

10     them to throw him out of the church.  I finally had a

11     conversation with Ken Long[7] (phonetic), he's with the

12     Office of Special Affairs International with the Church

13     of Scientology.  And I asked him point blank.

14               I said, If I turn him in, even if he's

15     declared, would I be declared.

16               And he said, Most definitely.  Not for the

17     act of turning him in itself but for the repercussions

18     thereof.

19               He was talking about the PR, the public

20     relations and the St. Pete Times[8], news media.

21               And, I'm sorry, but in my heart and in my

22     mind I said fuck it.

23          Q.   Okay.  Did, did you call the police?

24          A.   No.  What I did was I waited until August 9th

25     which was after -- I think I had the conversation with


 1     him on the 4th of August, or something like that.  I

 2     would have to get my phone bills to verify, but the

 3     next day was A----'s birthday and I didn't want to do

 4     anything on her birthday, so we waited until the

 5     Saturday, the 6th August, and I went down to the

 6     Sheriff's Office and I reported him.

 7          Q.   Okay.  Had, in the, in the course of this

 8     time period did any allegations regarding M--- come up?

 9     How did those come up?

10          A.   I don't remember when I found out that he had

11     done something to M---.  I don't even remember how I

12     found out.  I know, I know that A---- --

13               In the Church of Scientology you write

14     reports.  They're called "knowledge reports."  And I

15     remember after, sometime after I initially found out, I

16     had been having, having a hard time confronting, you

17     know.  I didn't want to hear from her exactly what he

18     had done to her because quite frankly I was afraid I

19     would kill him.

20               And I remember M--- didn't want to write a

21     report.  And so I told her, because I felt like it was

22     necessary to write a report to the Church of

23     Scientology, because I was trying, trying to get him

24     thrown out, I, I told her, I said, Well look, you just

25     tell me what happened and I'll write it down verbatim.

  1. M--- was the younger daughter.

  2. A---- was the older daughter, referenced in the court docket and other documents as L---- G---. Her middle name was A----, which is apparently the name by which she went.

  3. The family lived in Clearwater, Florida, which is home to the Flag Service Organization, the spiritual headquarters of the Church of Scientology.

  4. Tony was the name by which Donald Anthony Strawn was known.

  5. This is Robert Cefail, of "future films" fame.

  6. Tilman asked someone unrelated to this issue; the full name is probably Sergio Mora, unless there are more than one chaplain named "Sergio" at Flag.

  7. This is probably not the same Ken Long who posted on alt.religion.scientology.

  8. Since discovering this court case, of course, the critics of Scientology on the Internet have sent copies of the documents to the media. Including the St. Pete Times. If the media does anything with it, I shall add Web pages about their coverage.

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