Last Friday, Scientology critic, engineer and writer Keith Henson was arrested in Prescott Arizona, after fleeing California following a one year sentence for picketing Scientology's secret armed compound north of Hemet, California.
The sentence wasn't just, it wasn't fair, and the court wasn't honest.
Now, it appears he will be extradited back to corrupt Riverside County, where a jail sentence might well be a death sentence for him, if threats made to him by Scientologists are genuine.
I first met Keith Henson back in 2000, when a small group of Scientology critics met in Los Angeles to picket the Y2K Cult Extravaganza. I was impressed by his intelligence, his kindness and his sense of fun.
I was later to learn that Keith was mentioned in the intriguingly titled book, "The Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition."
A whacky look at strange science, Keith is described as a fellow who enjoyed blowing things up out in the desert. This isn't unusual, guys are out there blowing up stuff or riddling it with automatic weapons, rocket launchers, and other weapons of destruction that go 'boom.' There are whole clubs devoted to that pursuit. That doesn't make them terrorists.
Mr. Henson has written or been quoted in a number of publicationsrelated to cutting edge science. He has been interviewed by many other writers, including RU Serious. Genetics, cryonics, nanotechnology and the viral spread of memes are some of his interests.
This guy has hobbies other people work to get doctorates in! And yet, he's always been patient and willing to explain things in terms those of us with mere average brains can comprehend, without losing his patience or becoming insulting.
He is a very kind man, and concerned about others.
Which is why, in 2000, he took to the highway that bisects Scientology's "secret" armed compound north of Hemet, California, following the deaths of two innocent people at the hands of the cult.
It started with the death of Ashlee Shaner, who was returning home after a bible class with her sister, on the dark stretch of Highway 79 which cuts through Scientology's 'Gold Base' compound. Ashlee was decapitated when her car slammed into some earthmoving equipment without warning lights, which was partially blocking the road. The contractor later stated that he was ordered to ignore safety procedures by the cult, which wanted a job completed.
Keith began picketing Gold Base to draw the public's attention to Scientology's negligence.
One day, he had to be in San Jose, so a friend of mine, Shydavid, and I went to Hemet to continue the picket. While we were there, that very day, a woman named Stacy Moxon was dying in a transformer vault on the base. Stacy was the daughter of Kendrick Moxon, a high profile attorney for the "church" of Scientology. Initial reports from the compound reported a car accident. No, a car fire. No, a death in one of their transformer vaults. We have never gotten the straight story of how this slightly built woman was able to pry the heavy cover off the vault by herself, or why she went down there. The cult said she was looking for a pet squirrel. No, she was looking for wild ground squirrels. No, they knew nothing about it at all. The fact is, the Scientologists at Gold Base's lives are micromanaged to the point that Stacy would not have gone down there unless ordered to.
Weirdly, we were picketing at the very moment Stacy's life was being fried away. The cult sent out a couple of bigwigs to "handle" us. One guy, the head of OSA, came out and invited us to breakfast in town, "to discuss our differences." That man, Ken Hoden, has since been disappeared, with rumors of him being held in the Rehabilitation Project Force, Scientology's prison camp for recalcitrant culties.
The next person to emerge was Muriel Dufresne, his Number Two person. She invited us to enjoy brunch at the cult's dining hall on the property, and claimed to smell delicious food cooking. We smelled nothing, not even a whiff of roast Scientologist. We declined these invitations, but had no idea of the drama going on behind the razor wired fences.
Following Keith's response to a post on alt.religion.scientology concerning "Tom Cruise Missiles," the cult had him arrested. Following a parody of a trial, he was sentenced to a year in the Riverside jail for "interfering with a religion."
The cult shopped judges until they found a retired one they liked. Judge Wallerstein has since retired from the bench due to death.
Scientology, the key reason Keith was picketing, was not permitted to be mentioned in court.
Ken Hoden trotted out a number of residents of the base, each of whom related the terrible fear they had of this one man with a picket sign.
Hoden also committed perjury with impunity, relating the tale of a shooting in Portland Oregon by a man who walked into the org with a gun, shooting a pregnant woman and killing her unborn child.
What he did not mention was the fact that Godeka, the shooter, was mentally unbalanced and wanted the $60,000 the cult had extracted from him back. The baby lived, by the way. It was all a fabrication to make picketers look dangerous.
One "witness" later boasted that she could turn on the tears at will after weeping on the stand.
Some Scientology witnesses didn't even know their own residential address.
All of Keith's witnesses were dismissed. We never got an opportunity to testify.
Indeed, during this time, people on Keith's witness list were harassed, followed and monitored, until I called ADA Schwarz to complain.
The court dismissed one of Keith's witnesses, a man named Frank Oliver, who used to be high up in the cult and part of its Department of Dirty Tricks, the Office of Special Affairs. They dismissed his testimony because it was a few decades old. Yet, they allowed passages from Mambo Chicken, which was even older!
Like the Boston's Attorney General insisting that the Mooninite advertisements are a terroristic hoax, the Riverside ADA insisted that Keith was a danger to the cult.
Curiously, not one person who sat on that jury can be found. Not one.
[correction: several people did call around until they found a couple of people from the jury pool. What mysteriously disappeared was the actual jury list from the defense attorney's office, so they were forced to use the 50 name list from the entire jury pool. Still. Two jurors, and a PI who was working to find others abruptly quit out of fear. Even better.]
Keith's lawyer's mailbox was filled with dirt. Stupid cult tricks were perpetrated on attorney Jim Harr, witnesses Ida Camburn, David Rice, myself and others, until my call to the Riverside ADA handling the case.
Interestingly enough, ADA Schwarz abruptly vanished after this case, resurfacing someplace in the midwest and still unwilling or afraid to discuss it at all.
When he was convicted of this MISDEMEANOR and sentenced to a year in jail, Keith received death threats from Scientologists. The cult has several programs in prisons; Criminon, Second Chance and Narconon, to name a few. It wouldn't be that difficult to "get" Keith in Riverside County. Keith fled to Canada, and later returned to the United States in hiding.
Keith was picked up by the police last Friday in Prescott Arizona. He will probably be extradited to Riverside this Monday.
This entire case is an example of Scientology and its influence with the court system, not only in Riverside, but also Clearwater, Florida and Los Angeles County.
It is astonishing that a simple online joke about 'Tom Cruise Missiles' and a few pickets have resulted in this parody of justice! Keith could not afford an appeal, as the cult has driven him into bankruptcy proceedings.
Anyone who believes that the justice system is fair should look at the facts in this case. We are deeply concerned for Mr. Henson's future safety, particularly in light of the death threats he has received.
Yes, he compounded his problem by fleeing the jurisdiction. But who wouldn't, given the cult's reputation? This case needs to be reviewed, and now!
Lawyers who have looked at the information available on http://www.operatingthetan.com agree that it never should have gotten this far. Perjury, witness tampering and intimidation are only three elements which should have been addressed. Instead, they were swept aside, leaving Keith sentenced to serve a year in jail for a misdemeanor. Anyone concerned about real justice should be watchful as this continues to unfold!