Declarations by ex-Scientologists
(who worked with Harry Palmer and Avra Honey Smith)
Letter Maryann 1991
This is a letter sent to Michel Langinieux in early 1991, in response to some questions about Harry Palmers Scientology center in Elmira, New York. The writers last name had been obscured at her request.
I am Maryann _____, long time associate of the Harry Palmer "following" here in Elmira. I am writing to you at the request of my mother Gale Lyons.
At the age of 11, I entered Scientology. During the first couple of years I did not know of any of the financial which went on other than the subject of my Life Repair. When the money for the auditing had run out, Harry instructed his case supervisor to tell me I was resistant to auditing, and that I had to go into training to "handle the suppressive tendencies of my case."
At that time of my life repair I was a ripe old age of 12. Somehow I cant see a 12-year-old having much life to repair; suppressive tendencies?!
A year later a large DMSMH push was on--everyone had to sell Dianetics books any way possible. I was asked to purchase $50 worth of Dianetics books to "aid the cause." Avra had promised to refund my money if I could not sell them. The reason being I was a child, and this type of thing being sold door-to-door may be inappropriate for a 13-year-old. Avra assured me again of a refund backed with words of encouragement: "Everyone will buy from you because no one says no to a child."
I sold three books out of the 25--one to my grandmother, one to my great-grandmother and one to a neighbor. After approximately 3 months of door-to-door effort every day after school--and Saturday afternoons--Avra said she had made no such agreement, and if I could not sell them as a child then to wait a few years.
The money I used for the books was birthday money.
Avra had the need to get these books sold on that Thursdays stat[istic], so my mother advanced me the money to Avra via check. Avra assured her the check would be held by her personally until I received my birthday money. She cashed the check the same day and went shopping. From what I can recall, she had a banking/shopping ritual every Thursday.
In July of 1977, Harry sent me to FCDC [one of the main US Scientology organizations] for my Dianetic auditor internship with my mother. Upon my return, he offered me $2.00 per hour to audit Dianetics for him. I am unsure of how long this had lasted. When old Dianetics had been obsoleted and replaced with new, Harry again sent his C/S [case supervisor] to speak with me. I was told I was "dis-creating my job by being more interested in being a child."
And since I had "decided to be a child instead of "Clearing the Planet"
, I no longer was needed as an auditor. On my way out the door, Avra took me in for the "reg cycle." This is when I found out my internship was now worthless and had to start over again.
To this day I have no idea what he meant by "being more interested in being a child than clearing the planet."
During my employment, I had put in 25 hours in the chair in one week. When it was time to get my pay, Avra came to me and said I could not have it because I needed to purchase the Ministers Course; for " legal reasons." She handed me my check long enough for me to sign over my pay over to her. I never received my certificate-- the closest church where I could be ordained became impossible. Harry and the Church of Scientology of Buffalo were fighting.
Over the years, I purchased through OT 3 and NED for OTs., R6EW, through Grade IV, Sunshine Rundown. At this time the court told Harry he could not offer upper levels. He sold them, collected money for them knowing they would never be delivered. From the courses and OT levels I purchased, I only received half of what was owed to me. He said he did not have the money to pay back. Some are just rich and hide it, no?
During one registration over money owed in refund, I did manage to get from Harry from a mere $800 settlement to $7,000. Upon completion of our debate, Harry Palmer offered me $10,000 to negotiate with him against the remaining students. Did he think my inequity to be the same as his?
In 1984 (by then I was 21), I brought into the center $13,000 in one week--in cash. The following Thursday, I was suspended from all services until I came in with at least $5,000 more, and Avra said she wanted cash.
We were encouraged to submit altered tax returns to loan officers, lie to loan officers of the purpose of the money. The more tragic and effective the reason, the better Harry liked it. When loan cycles failed, I always was subject to ethics officer eval. No consideration was ever made about the income to debt ratio. It made absolutely no difference to Harry if we had twice the dollars going to payments than came in our paychecks. He also knew we would never see any of what we were buying--he could not deliver it--he was going to drop Scientology and go on to Avatar.
When I did Avatar, I was told the money was fully refundable if I was not happy--refundable without exception. When I came in to start, I had to sign a statement I would never ask for money from Harry Palmer, Stars Edge or Avra for any reason. That was the end of "Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back."
In 1983-1984, I was working with Don Woodfuff. Avra had instructed the crew chief to garnish my wages until a full $300 was collected for Harry's birthday gift. According to Avra, paying off loans was not a reason for failure to donate $300 to his birthday gift.
I find this so upsetting--the entire 12 years following that man is a nightmare.
$74,000 in debt, my trust, goodwill and believing had been raped. I left the Harry Palmer "spiritual freedom" path. Over the years, we were "urged" to buy Dianetics books by the case. The last time I purchased some, I recall Avra telling me she did not care if I had ten thousand of them, I either purchased another case or I was suppressive "And you know what that means...."
The last time a moved, over 300 Dianetics books hit the trash, along with two complete libraries of LRH [L. Ron Hubbard] Scientology books.
During the time of "Simon Bolivar" [a Scientology policy letter on power and politics], we were "urged" to give Harry power-flows --that meant more money --money to be given as a gift. A ten percent tithe is what Avra recommended to everyone. She never failed to remind us that buying services was still expected.
At this time I was co-auditing my lower levels. Our ethics officer instructed me that the Case Supervisor (who was Harry Palmer) would no longer accept any "natter" of any kind against Harry Palmer. I was also told that if I had anything negative to say about Harry, it was my own act which needed cleaning up. Furthermore, I was told that if I did not clean up my act, I would be declared suppressive and expelled from the group and lose my chance at spiritual freedom for all of eternity.
As I write this to you, I am feeling more and more emotional. I had intended to keep this objective. I am finding I am unable to do so. Also, as I write this more and more is returning to my memory.
Of all of this, the most upsetting to me is Avra took my birthday money my grandparents gave me (at 13 year old) and bought something for herself.
I, along with my mother, watched Harry grow, supported him and helped him. Through all that time. Harry always told us that when times were good, he would share the wealth with all of us. Some of us stuck it out from the beginning.
Harry Palmer never shared.
Elmira, New York