The Ex-Scientologist Message Board (ESMB) was a message board for Ex-Scientologists to “Meet Other Exes, Share Your Experiences, Reunite with Old Friends”. ESMB opened in February of 2007, founded by Ex-Scientologist Michelle Ryan from her home in Melbourne, Australia.
I have a lot of history with the original ESMB, both as a contributor there on the front stage, and as a friend to Michelle and all the people who helped run ESMB from behind the scenes.
To show the proper context of ESMB, and to illuminate a pattern that runs through Scientology Criticism all the way up to today, I’m going to reprint a post the Michelle Ryan, or “Emmma”, posted to ARS 2 years before she started that message board.
This is from a thread she started dated March 10, 2006, title “Fun and Games – to Gavino Idda“ and is addressed to her OSA handler Gavino Idda.
I do believe that Gavino is still running, or at least involved, in the operations to “handle the Internet” at OSA Int to this day. Gavino was, of course, Mike Rinder’s junior at this time and earlier.
Like I have been saying for almost 15 years now: Mike Rinder knows all of this – he helped set it up and run since its inception in the 1990’s.
Here is Michelle Ryan’s post to ARS, dated 10 March 2006, 2 years before she opened the Ex-Scientologist Message Board:
Mar 10, 2006, 7:21:18 AM
You may be asking yourself “Why?”, “How can this happen?”, “I thought I had her firmly in my pocket as an OSA spy”.
Firstly, don’t ask yourself “why” because it’s a listing question.
Secondly, let me tell you how this can happen. I’d hate for you to be stuck in mystery about it.
I wanted nothing else than to be an auditor. From the moment I walked into Melbourne Org it was my dream. I wanted to help people and it seemed that by becoming an auditor I could do just that. So I studied really hard and eventually achieved my goals.
Along the way, certain cracks started to appear in my own personal Truman show.
I saw people being hurt. This most ethical group on the planet was hurting both staff and public. The first and most graphic example of this was 6 months prior to the GAT launch. 2 of my closest friends had 6 month old babies and yet were ordered to Flag for 6 MONTHS!! You probably don’t care what effect that had on those mothers and their children but I certainly did.
I was closely involved in looking after one of those babies whilst his mother was away. I tried to give him as much love & attention as I could because his mother had just dissapeared! When she came back it was awful.
The child (he was 1 by that stage) didn’t know his mother at all. I’ll never forget the look on her face when I first saw her struggling to hold her child who was squirimg and trying to get away from this stranger. It got even worse when her son saw me and started holding out his arms and screaming to go to me. I felt incredibly guilty. Not only had she missed his first steps, his first tooth and the incredible changes that occur in a child under 1 year old, but now the child didn’t know her and thought I was his mother.
How does a mother cope with that?
The other child was just as upset and confused when her mother came back.
Both women took years to gain back the trust of their kids and I doubt that they ever really got over it. In fact I know a LOT of session time was devoted to try to handle that incredibly hurtful ARCX. After the GAT was launched I had first hand experience of the cruelties that were dished out. RTC decided that we weren’t making auditors fast enough so issued a citation to Melbourne Org. All tech terminals were to write up their O/Ws to a meter pass and this included the TTC (which I was part of).
So I did this and was meter checked on it. Then the order came back -“Not good enough, write more”. Now you tell me what LRH piece of tech says you can do that? But anyway, under much protest I wrote more O/Ws to another meter check and these were sent up again. However a week or so later I get an order to go to Sydney for Sec Checking! By this stage I have an 11 month old child, both myself and my husband were on staff working impossibly long hours to fullfill program targets. He had to audit 25 hours, plus do folder admin ect, plus study 35 hours per week on GAT courses plus try to wog job at night to keep us alive.
I was studying 45 hours a week, plus wog jobbing on weekends plus looking after my baby. But despite all this I was ordered to Sydney for a Sec check that I was expected to pay for. I was told that if I didn’t go I’d be declared instantly. So I got on a bus and went.
When I got there it was a living hell. I was treated like a piece of shit. I had nowhere to sleep (one other Melbourne staff member who was already up there was sleeping in his car) and it was 11pm at night. Someone told me to make it go right. I was terrified. Luckily another Melbourne staff member was staying at a place and told me I could sleep on the floor at the place he was staying. So that’s what I did.
The next few days were a blur. I managed to get myself a place to stay, a room with 8 others in bunk beds. I went to the CLO everyday and just wondered around aimlessly. Nobody had the time or desire to talk to me. I was an ethics particle who deserved nothing.
As the days stretched into weeks I was petrified I wouldn’t be back for my baby’s first birthday. It was also my second wedding anniversary 6 days after my daughter’s birthday and I wasn’t going to be able to spend that with my husband either. As it drew closer and closer I was as depressed as I’d ever been. I got extremely sick with a fever and managed to give it to almost every asian student in the CLO academy during my many hours of M7 and M9. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen because they knew I was sick.
I was trying to get my conditions completed in the hope that the sec check would be called off and I could go home. The day of my daughters birthday arrived. I was sick with grief. Nobody else cared at all. That weekend I blew. I got on a plane and came home. I had to see my daughter before she forgot about me. I saw how easily this can happen a few years before. I went straight to the childcare facility and held and held her and sobbed my eyes out. She knew who I was.
Monday came and I was sent straight back to Sydney but this time I was promised an auditor. I did eventually get a student auditor but it took weeks and the sessions were awful. Check my PC folders if you don’t believe me.
I asked the IG RTC ANZO if I could write up MORE O/Ws to speed the progress. I “F/Ned” through all the questions and eventually was allowed to attest and go home. Later that same auditor blew Scientology and was declared. I was not the only person to go through this at this time. There were “ethics particles” from all over the country in the same boat. Most of them were there far longer than me because they were clear or OT and needed a Clear or OT auditor and were being made to pay for it. They were away from their families for months at a time with no way to earn an income to pay for these vindictive sec checks. If they were like me, their biggest crime was to believe that the reads in the new meter films were simulated.
Yes, that was my biggest crime (I was told my the Programms Officer ANZO that this was the reason I was there). That was the reason I spent weeks and weeks away from my husband and child and missed two important personal milestones. Later I find out that I was right all along.
About 12 months later I was ordered to Sydney again but this time for training. This time they had hatched an ingenious plan where we could take our kids with us. I was assured that we had accommodation arranged to cater for us and our kids. There was another Melbourne staff member who was taking her two boys with her. We were flown up by donations solicited from public and made our way to the AO. When we got there no one was expecting us, there was no accommodation and the other woman and I sat in the foyer of the AO trying to pacify our kids until 3am until some poor public person who’d been woken up in the middle of the night was kind enough to come and get us.To say it was a nightmare is an understatement.
I spent the next day sitting in that same foyer waiting for someone to tell me what was going on. Later that night, about 8pm the EO from Melbourne Day(who was in Sydney on another cycle) told us we could leave – go home as we didn’t qual! Fortunately there was another staffmember who’d also been sucked into this awful cycle. He’d driven to Sydney the night before under extreme protest. He was told that he also didn’t qual and could leave. So we drove from Sydney to Melbourne overnight with my little girl asleep on the back seat of the car. It is over 900 kms between Sydney and Melbourne but we took turns in driving. I was so desperate to get my little girl home.
When I finally got back into the Org I was put in lower conditions yet again and made to feel very ashamed that I hadn’t made it go right. I was supposed to now recruit a replacement for myself so spent the day on the phone pretending to make phone calls.
I could go on and on about this, and it would just be my personal experience. I could tell you about the appalling treatment my husband experienced when trying to leave after his contract expired. The screaming and yelling, the snide remarks, the threats, the belittlement, the invalidation. I could tell you about several public who were baltently ripped off thousands and thousands of dollars for services that were NEVER EVER going to be delivered because they just never qual’d and the reges knew it. Did they get their money back? NOOOOOO. It’s for next lifetime.
Oh gimme a break!
So the cracks were there all along, and as time went on the became bigger and bigger until I couldn’t stand it any more. I knew there was something very wrong with this situation but I didn’t know what. Then I looked on the
That first night I googled “scientology” will be a night I’ll never forget. I think my jaw dropped open after the first five minutes and it stayed that way for the next 5 hours.
I found out that LRH, the man who was source to the greatest technology man had ever known was a fraud, a bigamist, a criminal, a liar, a thief, a drug addict, a wife basher, a satanist and on the run from the law for the last several years of his life.
I found out there was 7 kids, not 4 and 3 wives, not 2 and Mary Sue went to jail while he ran away.
I found out the truth about David Mayo, David Miscavige and what happened to the mission network.
I found out about overboarding and chainlockers for kids. Yes, I read a lot in that first sitting.
To say I was devastated and in shock is another big understatement. My whole life was based on a lie! My friends, my church, my vocation, my goals, my future, indeed my whole “eternity” was based on BS! I knew back then that you can’t trust everything written on the net, but when you’ve got court documents, official naval records, official academic records, affidavits and personal stories that tell the same sad tale over and over again, you just can’t dismiss it all as “lies”.
I went back to the church to try to “handle” my disagreements but it was never going to work. I knew the truth and you just can’t change that. I tried to reprogram myself but now there was a ghost in the machine. The programming was broken and there is nothing I or anyone else could do about it. I tried to do the right thing. I wrote up my O/Ws (again) about what I’d seen on the net.
After that I was dismissed from staff (without a comm ev) and gagged. I was not allowed to speak to anyone other than HCO or DSA, and speak to them only regarding my ethics cycle. I had no one. That church was my life. I had no other friends, no other job, no other skills and I’d isolated myself from my family years ago. Plus I’d told them that everything was “just fine” with my life. I could never bring myself to tell my mum about the treatment I’d been subjected to. How did I now pretend like none of that happened?
So now I was on my own – totally. All my previously held ideas about how life works were shattered. To use a Scientologyism, my stable data was gone with nothing to replace it. I had noone to discuss this with and no friends shoulders to cry on. I wasn’t allowed to talk to my husband about this because it was entheta.
So where did I turn? The internet of course.
Low and behold, what do I find? Loads and loads of people who UNDERSTAND because they’d been through it themselves.
People from all types of backgrounds, locations and levels of involvement. But what I found most of all was care and help. You wonder why someone like me turns to the internet? I don’t think it’s hard to understand.
Over time I formed friendships. Strong friendships with people who were honest and who really cared about me. They understood where I’d been and they understood where I was going. I no longer felt I was going mad.
Over the next few years I did make some effort to get back in the church’s good graces. Understand that this was never my personal choice but one I made out of duty to my husband who was desperate to get his Scientology wife back. In effect I was playing the game of “try to keep the marriage together for the child even if it’s based on lies” It wasn’t until 2004 (October) that anything came of it. The ED Melbourne foundation had agreed to help me complete my F & Rs but I was not happy about the injustices and wanted them corrected as well. Out of the blue she brings CO OSA ANZO and PRO OSA ANZO to my house!
They were very nice to me, even as they told me they were aware that I was posting to the net and chatting on IRC. They said they wanted to help me and for a moment I was almost sold on the idea. But when they left I realised that I’d never be allowed back into an Org ever again and that there must be a hidden agenda there but I didn’t know what it was. I later proved my suspicions several times over.
At this time I hadn’t mentioned anything to anyone else on channel or on ars. I was waiting to see what eventuated. I didn’t have to wait long.
On October 31st (I remember this because I was at a halloween party) I got a call from my local OSA office asking if I could log onto the chat channel and log the conversations that were going on. I was assured that these would never be published or used against anyone, but that OSA just wanted to know if the evil SPs were planning anything.
Now I knew what the agenda was.
I got online and told a few trusted people what OSA had asked me to do and a plan was hatched. Little did we know just how far this would go.
A few days later I got a call from an Italian sounding man who called himself “Frank”. He said he was from OSA Int and wanted me to send the logs directly to him.
I got back on line and was talking to Patty Pieniadz who I’d gotten to know very well. She told me that OSA suspected her to be Cerridwen because Maureen had already confronted her about it. Being the wild and crazy person she is, she suggested that we give them what they want! This way it throws them completely off the track as to who Cerridwen actually is (Which I still don’t know) and we get to have some fun. So we had several conversations where she “admitted” to being Cerridwen. But then she really made me laugh when she says that she’s Lagniappe AND the Mailman.
She thought we could get away with this because they both use remailers. I didn’t think “Frank” would buy this but it seems he did! Frank of course was Gavino Idda.
The fun stopped when OSA posted the DA page on Patty. It seems our plan had backfired. I was extremely upset about it but Patty just took it in her stride. Her reasoning was that she had planned to start posting anyway and what she had to say DESERVED a DA page, so it was just a matter of time. It was at that time, if you remember Gavino, that I got very upset with you and told you I wouldn’t be your spy any longer. So the game was over.
So why, you may ask, am I coming out now to tell this little tale. It’s actually very simple.
Gavino, you promised me that you’d never post or use any logs I sent you. Now, through a forgery of David Touretzky, you have promised to do just that. This exposes another 2 lies you told me. First you told me that OSA don’t post to ars, but only OSA had access to that “data”. Secondly you said you’d never betray me. But you have. Sort of. I mean there is nothing to betray but you didn’t KNOW that until a few hours ago. So if I had trusted you I’d be right in the soup – wouldn’t I?
My other reason for coming out now and telling this story is because I’m proud of the work this group does. I’m proud of the guts that people show, especially those who were “in” the longest i.e Patty, Chuck Tory etc. Until now I’ve been content to stay on the fence. Not really “in” but never having the guts to make that clear. I was always worried about what OSA would do to me, or my marriage or my daughter. Now I see that I have an obligation to tell the truth.
I will most certainly be declared over this posting and my earlier one. This will change some things in my life and make it more difficult to have any kind of civil relationship with my ex husband. But what I’ve realised is that I have the RIGHT to speak out. I have the RIGHT to expose a group who do harm to people under the guise of help. If that group choose to fair game me or label me an SP or psychotic then that is their choice. If my husband chooses to abide by their suppresive laws then that is his problem – not mine.
Sorry this is so long. It needed to be said.
This “open letter” to Gavina Idda was posted to ARS 2 years before Michelle Ryan started up the Ex-Scientologist Message Board in February of 2007.
Within a year after starting up ESMB, we would see an Australian Senator Nick Xenophon calling the Church of Scientology a “criminal organization” on the floor of the Australian Senate, an official government hearing into Scientology led by Senator Xenophon – featuring 7 high profile Australian members of ESMB – and the rise of Anonymous in late 2007/early 2008 – their first stop was ESMB to get briefed by the participants there.
So do you think that Marty Rathbun, head of the RTC, Mike Rinder Commanding Officer of the Office of Special Affairs, and COB David Miscavige knew nothing about any of this?
There is much more history and context yet to be delivered.
NOTE: At the time of this writing, Michelle Ryan’s daughter was 8 or 9 years old. This is important because Marty, Mike and Dave would use Michelle’s daughter against her many more times.