The controversial Church of Scientology is on trial in a courtroom in Comal County, as 1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports from New Braunfels.
Monique Rathbun of Spring Branch, who has no connections to the church, is suing Scientology, claiming she has been harassed and intimidated by Scientology and by its members, simply because she is married to a former Scientology leader who has become a vocal critic of the church and its leaders.
"We were not going to bow down to their demands to be silent, which is really what this case, and the harassment, are all about," said Marty Rathbun. He was a long time assistant to Scientology leader David Miscavage.
According to his official biography, Rathbun headed Scientology's Religious Technology enter, making him, in effect, Scientology's 'enforcer.' Rathbun was also in charge of Scientology's 'auditing sessions' with its best known member, actor Tom Cruise.
But in 2009. Rathbun broke with Scientology and has become a leading critic of the faith, participating in several undercover investigations into bizarre scientology practices. He has also written a book. "Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior."
But Monique Rathbun says Scientology, which is known for efficiently cracking down on dissent, a practice, ironically, honed to perfection by her husband, has subjected her to a campaign of harassment ever since her husband left the church. She told a New Braunfels judge that the harassment included being trailed by what Scientology calls its 'Squirrel Busters,' who actually rented a house down the street from theirs in Spring Branch to use for photographing, harassing, and yelling insults at the couple.
But in their opening statements, Scientology lawyers depicted the church as victims, claiming they were harassed by Monique and Marty Rathbun. Monique's lawyer isn't surprised by that.
"They are going to try to make the case about anything but what the case is about," he said.
Marty said he is used to this sort of treatment.
"They pay these guys a lot of money to do this, and it is par for the course for them," he said.
Monique testified that Scientology used bizarre tactics to harass her, once mailing a sex toy to her at her San Antonio office, what she says was an attempt to drive a wedge between her and her husband. Monique testified that the 'Squirrel Busters' never trespassed on her property, and she has no reason to believe that anything came of the videos that were made of her.
A lawyer for Miscavage says the purpose of the lawsuit is to allow the Rathbuns to depose the church leader to receive more information to use in future books. The Rathbuns say they simply want to be left alone.