Hush-Hush Money - 1997-08-14
After more than seventeen years of litigation, Lawrence Wollersheim knows that talk isn't cheap -- not when you're talking to lawyers and your life's work happens to involve badmouthing the Church of Scientology. But the price of silence is even higher. Too high, in Wollersheim's estimation, which is why he says he walked away from an alleged settlement offer by the church that would have netted him and a few colleagues $12 million in exchange for abandoning their crusade against Scientology.
Wollersheim is one of the founders of the Fight Against Coercive Tactics Network (FACTNet), a Boulder-based computer archive that's been embroiled in a copyright dispute with Scientology organizations in a federal courtroom in Denver for the past two years. The lawsuit was triggered by a FACTNet boardmember's efforts to publicize Scientology's secret, upper-level scriptures by distributing excerpts on the Internet ("Nightmare on the Net," March 6). Wollersheim recently went public with his version of the church's efforts to settle the case, posting a ten-page account of the negotiations on FACTNet's Web page. The manifesto has provoked widespread discussion of the supposed $12 million offer in the electronic newsgroup alt.religion.scientology, a cyberspace forum for Scientology dissidents.
"Because of the bad faith involved, I cannot hold back what went on," Wollersheim says. "The general public and people who may be considering other Scientology settlement offers need to know what is going on behind closed doors."