Mike Rinder lies on cue in pursuit of his A&E paycheck earned for inciting hate and violence by instigating religious intolerance and bigotry.
He does it by rewriting the history of the Church of Scientology in Clearwater, Florida, into something that has no resemblance to the truth. Here is the real story: In the 1970s, the Church of Scientology needed a new home for its headquarters. In 1975, Clearwater was selected and the Church purchased the Fort Harrison Hotel and the old Clearwater Bank Building. As is customary in the real estate world, the Church used a nominee buyer to keep the asking prices for the property in check. The Church thought that the arrival of a new member of the community that would bring many visitors to the area would be a welcome addition to the community. That was its only aim. The opposite of welcome proved to be the case.
The scene that confronted the Church was a dismal one. Local politicians and real estate moguls had set up downtown Clearwater to fail. Its streets were empty and its landmarks rotting away. The plan was to depress property values, buy up the land cheap and reap huge profits. The last thing they needed was thousands of members of a large religious institution visiting the area every year, spending money and driving up the property values. Hip deep with the corrupt land developers was then-Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares. Cazares led the City’s bitter hate campaign against the Church of Scientology. At the same time, though, he tried to cover all his bases by secretly feeding information to the FBI as an informant, in case his underhanded dealings with developers were exposed.
As far as whatever actions an old autonomous unit in the Church may have taken concerning Gabe Cazares, unbeknownst to the rest of the Church, Mike Rinder is dishonest. It is a matter of documented fact that it was Mr. David Miscavige who, in 1981, uncovered what that unit had been up to, dismissed its personnel who were involved in or knew about any of its activities, and completely disbanded the unit—facts even judges and governments have acknowledged. Mike Rinder was certainly aware of this. In 1998, Rinder was quoted in the St. Petersburg Times about actions of this rogue unit: “It’s 20 years later and we had no involvement in it or knowledge it was happening, yet we’re still handling the fallout of it,” Rinder said. He added: “That isn’t us.”
In the early 1980s, the City of Clearwater took its bitter feud to a new level. Induced by an ambulance-chasing personal injury attorney and fueled by an orchestrated media campaign, City officials did everything they could, using taxpayer dollars, to incite hatred against the Scientology religion. Naturally, money was still at the center of this misguided effort. The attorney’s clients were embittered apostates looking to cash in by monetizing their lies. So they enlisted the City to try to enact an ordinance openly intended to force the Church out of Clearwater, the city where it has uniquely provided the highest level of religious services to parishioners who visit from throughout the world.
But over time the Church disproved each and every one of the lies and overcame the obstacles the lawyer tried to put in its way, winning the right to disseminate its doctrines, publish its Scripture, engage in its practices, and to participate in the religious and cultural life of the city and nation.
In 1993, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit struck down the Clearwater ordinance described above as unconstitutional on its face and found “explicit evidence that the city commission conducted its legislative process from beginning to end with the intention of singling out Scientology for burdensome regulation.
In 1993, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit struck down the Clearwater ordinance described above as unconstitutional on its face.
“The record shows a widespread political movement, apparently driven by an upsurge of sectarian fervor that was intent on driving Scientology from Clearwater. It also shows that various members of the commission had made their affiliation with that movement known to the public in the plainest terms possible, not only in the official legislative record leading to adoption of the ordinances but also in documents concerning unrelated government activity and in extemporaneous remarks.”
The City’s bid to have the decision reviewed by the United States Supreme Court failed. On May 17, 1995, the City of Clearwater formally agreed to settlement terms that permanently repealed the 1984 charitable solicitation ordinance with the City paying the Church’s legal costs.
Benjamin Rinder, Mike Rinder’s son, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer shortly after Rinder abandoned his family. Ben says that during his treatment, from beginning to end, Rinder didn’t contact him once, offer to pay the medical bills or ensure he was getting the best treatment. He was simply not involved at all. When Rinder came to the Church in Florida where Ben works three years later, pretending to want to see him, Ben knew he was doing it to fabricate a media story: “He’s just forwarding his own agenda. It has nothing to do with me. I don’t think he cares.”
Rinder and several cohorts went to a Church facility in Florida and attempted to storm their way into the lobby, conveniently accompanied by a camera crew. When they ignored requests to leave, police issued a formal trespass citation. Rinder admitted he staged this incident for a UK media organization so the Church “can stop saying I don’t want to see my kid, because now I’ve proven you won’t let me see my kid!” (That is exactly why his son did not want to see him, as this wasn’t the act of a father, but of an opportunist.)
Not satisfied with exploiting his own son’s illness, Rinder joined the leeches he once criticized by exhuming the tragedy of Lisa McPherson’s death. In 1997, Rinder chastised ghoulish reporters, telling them, “that’s how you manipulate news. While hypocritically stating that others don’t want news coming out and that you have a duty to inform your readers, you make sure they don’t get all of the information but only get your predigested vomit. … One day you’re going to realize how despicable the harm is you’ve inflicted on Scientologists with your innuendo and it will hit you so hard, you will pray for forgiveness from the hand of God. I pray you are worthy of that forgiveness, for your sake.”
In Rinder’s spin of history 20 years later, Rinder omits that he was 100 percent responsible for the years of chaotic litigation that followed, disrupting the entire community. The facts, as revealed by Mark “Marty” Rathbun, Rinder’s best buddy and co-suborner of perjury, are as follows:
Rinder provided the final piece of the puzzle himself, which explained why he had such a bizarre friendship with Rathbun and DeVocht: Rinder was in on the suborning of perjury the whole time—directing the entire thing.
Despite Rinder covering up these facts from his superiors—as they would only be revealed years after the fact—Rinder was none-the-less unceremoniously removed from his position of authority because of his failings and dishonesties, all of which is why today he makes these subsequent and bitter efforts at retaliation.
Rinder was in on the suborning of perjury the whole time—directing the entire thing.
Rinder and Remini also lied about those destroyed documents, suggesting that the culprit had been “ordered” by his superior. Rinder can’t “forget” that his erstwhile collaborator Marty Rathbun, told the St Petersburg Times in 2009: “Nobody told me to do it and I did it. The truth is the truth and right now I’m going to confession, and I really think it’s something that hurt the church more than it hurt the people that were trying to get recompense. But it is what it is, and I know it could potentially be a crime.”
What is also true is that Joan Wood, the Medical Examiner, who ultimately determined that the cause of death was accidental, did so based purely on the scientific evidence. And like Bob Minton, in the 20 years since, Joan Wood has also passed away and is unable to defend her integrity from exploitation by Denis DeVlaming, who has chosen to sink with Rinder and Remini.
The Church went on to achieve victory after victory in establishing itself in courts and through governments worldwide as a bona fide religion, much to the chagrin of embittered malcontents such as Remini and Rinder. Indeed, for two decades the Church of Scientology has enjoyed peaceful and cooperative relations with, among other institutions, the U.S. State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service and, especially, the City of Clearwater, where it is the major contributor to the local economy and draws visitors each year from around the world.
Bob Minton, a banker living alone in New Hampshire, was never a Scientologist and had nothing to do with Scientology until early 1995 when he first got involved with a group of anti-Scientologists via the Internet.
Minton’s wealth and naiveté made him a prime target for many people in this group and he soon became the ATM for their activities.
For years, all anyone needed to do was hold out their hand and profess their work against Scientology and Minton would hand over the dough. In seven years he shelled out over $7 million to the band of beggars.
He was taken for a ride, ruining his decades-long marriage and throwing away millions of dollars (he shacked up with the first of the anti-Scientologists to cultivate him).
Minton, with the help of his hangers-on, set up an office next to the Church in downtown Clearwater, near the Church staff dining facilities. He led daily pickets with a bullhorn insulting Church staff and parishioners on the streets.
Minton became the financial backer of litigation against the Church, in particular the case filed on behalf of Lisa McPherson’s estranged aunt by attorney Ken Dandar. Before long, Minton was not only funding the case, but involved in strategy, including adding the Church’s ecclesiastical leader as a defendant as a harassment tactic. He ended up funding the lawsuit to a tune of over $2 million.
In the end, the pressure of manipulating and lying to the courts caused Minton to recant. In Minton’s own words:
“On March 9, 1997, I met attorney Ken Dandar for the first time when I participated in a picket in Clearwater, Florida, against the Church of Scientology. Mr. Dandar had an extensive discussion … at that meeting in my presence to learn about the pursuit of other Scientology corporations and church leaders as a litigation tactic to ‘go after’ Scientology.”
“I contacted Mr. Dandar in October 1997 and offered to loan the Estate $100,000 to defray costs and expenses so this case could become a vehicle to attack Scientology on a broad scale.
“That $100,000 and all subsequent amounts, up to a total of $2,050,000 I loaned to the Estate, was specifically for covering the expenses of litigating the wrongful death case.”
“Following receipt of my $100,000, Mr. Dandar sent me a letter telling me that I would have no participation in the control of the litigation. This self-serving statement quickly became untrue, as Mr. Dandar immediately began consulting me about the conduct of the litigation, briefing me on confidential information from the case, sending me copies of deposition and hearing transcripts, and calling me for advice. His statements concerning case control became increasingly untrue throughout my involvement in the case when Mr. Dandar would do things in the litigation designed to satisfy my wishes and thus get more money from me.”
“In June 1998 I was featured in a forty-minute segment on Dateline entitled ‘The Crusader.’ The program focused on my activities concerning Scientology. Throughout the filming of the Dateline program, Mr. Dandar indicated his excitement at the possibility of more sensational anti-Scientology coverage on national television, especially if I could get Dateline to focus on the wrongful death case. Mr. Dandar told me he was anxious to have any media against Scientology especially if it would have some impact on the jury pool in Florida.
“Mr. Dandar encouraged me to get as much negative media about Scientology as possible and I gave media interviews whenever I could. I attended and organized regular picketing of Scientology facilities—which Mr. Dandar and others in the trial team also attended on occasion.”
“I gathered the most vocal Scientology critics and most of the anti-Scientology witnesses under the umbrella of the LMT [Lisa McPherson Trust]. I paid the witnesses through my funding of the LMT and put other critics on the LMT Board of Advisors. Because I was funding both the case and its witnesses, the wrongful death case and the LMT became virtually interchangeable.”
“It was my observation and intent that the LMT was not only the vehicle designated to receive the proceeds of the wrongful death case, it was also used to avoid discovery in the case and disguise the fact that witnesses were being paid. The LMT, represented by Mr. Dandar, maintained that it was separate from the wrongful death case in order to avoid discovery and prevent witnesses from being deposed. Mr. Dandar filed many motions on behalf of LMT and me to try to prevent discovery requests from going forward. The truth was that LMT was inextricably linked to this litigation.”
“It was my observation and intent that the Lisa McPherson Trust ..… was used to avoid discovery in the case and disguise the fact that witnesses were being paid.”
“Several weeks before my deposition on May 24, 2000, I had several conversations with Mr. Dandar regarding additional funds he said he needed for the trial of the wrongful death case. He asked me for enough money to take him through the trial. He told me an additional $500,000 would be sufficient. He told me he had a way to hide the funds from Scientology and told me I should arrange payments in such a way that the funds could not be traced back to me. He told me he would not put these funds in his client trust account and that he had another account that Scientology could never find.
“Mr. Dandar also told me he did not want the money to appear to come from me because my financial involvement was making the case too messy and that he wanted to conceal the money from his employees, Dr. Garko and Tom Haverty, to justify cutting back payments to them. He told me I should never disclose these funds were from me. From this point forward, Mr. Dandar told me that he would tell his employees he was funding the litigation from his retirement account.
“Following these conversations with Mr. Dandar about the $500,000, I caused a check dated May 1, 2000, in that amount to be issued to Mr. Dandar by the Union Bank of Switzerland, payable at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. I handed this check to Mr. Dandar at the Bombay Bicycle Club in Clearwater, Florida, a few days after May 1, 2000.”
“I became increasingly concerned with the perjury I had been involved in and the possibility that I could be prosecuted. I authorized my attorneys to contact Scientology’s attorneys in early February 2002 to initiate settlement discussions.” [Second Affidavit of Robert S. Minton, April 24, 2002]
After Minton settled with the Church, Minton experienced harassment and intimidation from the anti-Scientologists he had once bankrolled. As described by his consort (who also recanted at the same time as Minton), Stacy Brooks:
“But then what started happening was after he stopped funding the case, a lot of the critics who were working with Mr. Dandar just totally turned on Mr. Minton and me and really put us in a situation where it was a worse attack against us than even what was happening from Scientology or what they had ever done.” and “[T]he anti-Scientologists have been angrier at us and more threatening at us and more intimidating of us than Scientology ever even thought of being. I’m not kidding.”
Betsy Steg of Clearwater, Florida, has never been a Scientologist or close to the religion aside from having an extramarital affair with the ex-husband of a Scientologist and using taxpayer dollars to carry out her personal vendetta against the religion by posting anti-religious statements on the internet.
She inexplicably befriended anti-Scientologists starting in 2010, becoming a self-appointed enabler of their nefarious attempts to attack Scientologists in the very community where she lives and theoretically worked as a public servant.
Shockingly, Steg, whose husband is a geriatric doctor in Florida, posted anti-religious rhetoric from Pinellas County government offices where she was serving as an Assistant County Attorney and later as a magistrate with the Sixth Judicial Circuit. That means she was a public servant, paid by public funds, holding a position requiring fair treatment to all citizens. Yet she targeted an entire class of citizen she didn’t like because of their religion. Imagine if a government attorney used their taxpayer-funded position to target Catholics, Baptists, Muslims or Jews for hate.
Steg was dismissed by the County and fired as a public servant after 20 years.
While employed as a public servant—bound by her signature to rules prohibiting discrimination—Betsy Steg was aiding and abetting religious attackers and blatantly violated regulations and ethics by using County computers for her anti-religious campaign. Steg began giving legal advice to anti-Scientologists—anonymously and online—while holding public office as Assistant County Attorney. After she was dismissed by the County and fired from her job after 18 years, Steg became a General Magistrate and Child Support Enforcement Hearing Officer for Pasco and Pinellas counties and continued her postings while in that public position. In November 2011, Steg was fired shortly after the bulk of these postings were made.
A letter from the Trial Courts Administrator dated November 29, 2011, confirmed that her employment was terminated, that she had previously been offered an opportunity to resign, and referred to “potentially stigmatizing information that will be maintained in your personnel file.” The bottom line is that Steg used her position as an attorney and public official to promote her personal religious bigotry.
The bottom line is that Steg used her position as an attorney and public official to promote her personal religious bigotry.
After being fired, Steg then joined up with and began partying with a small clique of anti-Scientologists. Steg and her husband also owned a home, “Cedar House,” where in June 2013, Steg hosted the wedding of Mike Rinder that was attended by 60 anti-Scientologists.
As it turns out, Steg has a long history of violating City codes prohibiting short-term rentals, flagrantly disregarding the law, much to the frustration of Clearwater officials. In other words, she was an attorney who was violating the law—repeatedly.
Steg was fined $46,000 by the Municipal Code Enforcement Board (MCEB) and appealed to the Pinellas County Circuit Court. The Court ruled: “the totality of the evidence constitutes competent substantial evidence that thirteen separate violations occurred.”
Public records reveal that Steg had been under investigation by the City’s Code Compliance Division for years for unlawful short-term property rental. She had been fined thousands of dollars for these violations and risked losing the property for unpaid fines.
Steg was find $46,000 by the Municipal Code Enforcement Board and appealed to the Pinellas County Circuit Court. The Court ruled, “the totality of the evidence constitutes competent substantial evidence that thirteen separate violations occurred.”
In December 2015, the City prosecuted Steg again, this time after a city investigator posed as a tourist and rented Steg’s property for seven days. During the December 16, 2015, hearing on the matter, MCEB member Mike Riordan described the extent of her violations: “Mrs. Steg is a lawyer who’s been doing this for 10 years …. Mrs. Steg knows, she’s been doing this for a decade. Her renters have mauled an animal, they’ve screamed at people …. This has been in the paper, the City has hired a PI, she is an attorney …. The City is coming down, and this case is one of the worst I’ve seen….”
The irony is that Steg is a hypocrite. She has made her living enforcing laws against others, yet arrogantly refuses to abide by laws herself. In fact, she argued the laws were only being applied to her because “she hosted Mike Rinder’s wedding”—an absurd claim given how city officials have thrown up their hands for years in frustration at her actions.
Mark Bunker is a mostly unemployed videographer whose anti-Scientology antics once earned him an injunction for harassment from a judge for shoving his video camera in people’s faces and, notably, harassing children by filming them without permission of their parents.
Bunker began his bullying, creepy tactics in 1998, thrusting his camera into people’s faces and trying to force his way into Church facilities.
In 2008, he became an advisor to the cyberterrorist group Anonymous. Bunker’s activities with Anonymous led to hate threats and threats of violence against the Church. In one posting about a picket naming Bunker as one of the participants, one of his colleagues promoted that the Church leader would be “hanged in effigy and burned like a common criminal.”
The hate threats and incidents of violence, vandalism, bomb threats and malicious attacks on Church websites by Anonymous members has been well documented.
In 2008, Mark Bunker became an advisor to the cyberterrorist group Anonymous.
Bunker, who once held a steady job at a local news station, now admits he is not a journalist and is such an obsessed anti-Scientology zealot that he torpedoed his career by tumbling down the crazy rabbit hole others like Tony Ortega and Leah Remini have fallen into.
He now begs for money on Facebook and through online fundraising to cover personal expenses. Even anti-Scientologists criticize him. As one wrote, “I think what’s particularly disturbing is the lack of integrity Bunker demonstrates on a regular basis by begging for money…”
Despite his continued groveling for financial handouts to bail him out (all while he held a paying job), in February 2018, Bunker filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, citing over $40,000 in consumer debts—mostly credit cards.
When Mark Bunker tried to get the injunction against him for harassing Scientology lifted, his go-to attorney was Denis DeVlaming, a criminal defense attorney who represents drug addicts, drunks and sexual deviants. His most notorious anti-Scientology client is pervert Jesse Prince, who admitted under oath to having oral sex with his sister.
DeVlaming is a criminal defense attorney who represents drug addicts, drunks and sexual deviants. His most notorious anti-Scientology client is pervert Jesse Prince, who admitted under oath to having oral sex with his sister.
Prince’s blatant dishonesty regarding the Church and its leader is legendary. Courts have summarily dismissed his testimony as duplicitous and untrustworthy. Indeed, an exasperated Florida judge once stated that Prince “would tell you under oath that he wouldn’t care if he was under oath or not, he’d lie … I’m just quite flabbergasted. I don’t know that any court has ever seen the likes of him.” (Hon. Susan Schaeffer, hearing of March 1, 2002)
Prince’s history of bizarre, deviant personal includes being charged for contributing to the delinquency of a minor for impregnating a child. He also was arrested for walking naked down the street while high on drugs and pled guilty to disorderly conduct.
Prince’s animus against the Church and its ecclesiastical religious leader is so deep that he is caught on video stating the following about Mr. Miscavige:
I’m coming with a d*** so big, I’m going to knock his God damn spine out.
After being expelled from the Church more than 20 years ago, Prince started a cottage industry as a witness-for-hire against the Church. In one case, in which he received over $300,000, the court ruled Prince was lying under oath.
Another of Prince’s false claims, in an affidavit, resulted in the Church leader being named as a defendant in a Florida civil case in 1999, which took years of time and expense for the Church to set the record straight. Prince concocted a story about having “destroyed files and documents” years before “at the order of the leader of the religion.”
This included Prince’s lying under oath about “pulping” these alleged papers and how three feet of them were crushed into “a little vial” following their destruction. When the documents were found to have never been destroyed at all, all three feet of these files were presented to the judge in their original state.
Courts routinely dismissed Prince’s testimony as perjurious and duplicitous.
Courts routinely dismissed Prince’s testimony as perjurious and duplicitous. In addition to the Court’s finding on this issue, here are some examples regarding what courts had to say about Prince and his veracity:
The Hon. W. Douglas Baird also found that Prince was not a credible witness. (January 10, 2003). Courts have unequivocally concluded that Prince is a serial perjurer and a chronic liar.
DeVlaming kind of omits the facts when they don’t fit the fake story Remini wants him to tell.
That is the real picture Remini and Rinder did not present. When it comes to telling the truth and being honest about the history of the Church in Clearwater, A&E proves they have one agenda and one agenda alone: to incite hate against a religious institution, its leaders and parishioners. To hell with whether A&E’s hate inspires felonies or worse, murder.