Did Scientology Strike Back? - 1997-06-01
When the end finally came for the old Cult Awareness Network, it happened fast. Cynthia Kisser, CAN's executive director, struggled to stay calm as she sat in federal bankruptcy court in Chicago late last October waiting for the auction to begin. Kisser, who had spent the past nine years leading CAN's efforts to inform the public about dangerous cults, had hoped that she wouldn't have to pay much for her group's assets that day. Nor did she want much, she claims—just the chance to put the hopelessly bankrupt CAN out of its misery by buying up its trade name, post office box, help line number, and service mark, so that all could be retired.
There was another suitor in the courtroom, however—Steven Hayes, a member of the Church of Scientology. And Hayes, a lawyer who had come all the way from Los Angeles to attend the auction, had other plans.
The bidding started at $10,000. Kisser offered $11,000, Hayes raised her by $1,000. The two quickly inched up to $15,000. Kisser kept going, to $17,000, then $19,000. But when Hayes upped the bidding by another $1,000, Kisser finally balked. "No more," she told Philip Martino, the bankruptcy trustee overseeing the sale. From there, it was all paperwork. "I will accept the offer of Mr. Hayes for $20,000," Martino announced dryly. "We will document this with a court order tomorrow."