Transcript of CBS's Public Eye show on Lisa McPherson 1/7/98
[08 Jan 1998]

Public Eye, CBS, 07 Jan 1998

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Subject: IGNORE PREVIOUS POST--CORRECTED Transcript of CBS's Public Eye show on Lisa McPherson 1/7/98
Date: 8 Jan 1998 01:07:00 -0700
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Description of video in [brackets]. VO--VOICEOVER of Kristin

ANNOUNCER: Once again, live from CBS News, here is Bryant Gumbel

BRYANT GUMBEL (in studio): Since first attracting attention more than
30 years ago the tenets of Scientology have been reviled by critics
and revered by supporters. Those same supporters have earned a fierce
reputation for relentlessly using the courts to defend Scientology,
ultimately gaining it tax exempt status as a recognized religion. In
recent years, the church's profile has been enhanced by association
with a variety of Hollywood stars, famous folks who have put a shining
face on a self-styled church that's often clouded by secrecy and
mistrust. All of which brings us to a lawsuit in Florida, a wrongful
death suit that has pitted proponents of Scientology against the
family of a young woman who died in the prime of her life. Kristin
Jeannette-Meyers, herself a lawyer, details the sad end of Lisa

(17 DAYS--Producer: Bill McGowan)

{CW candlelight vigil 12/5/97--bagpiper playing "Taps; picketer (I
think it’s Jeff Jacobsen) holding sign with Lisa’s pic and message
"Lisa McPherson 1959-1995"; vigil member blowing out his own candle]

VO: She was not rich, famous, or powerful. but in death, Lisa
McPherson is grabbing headlines normally reserved for Scientology's
celebrity followers.

[Daytime picket--Picketer (I think it’s Garry Scarff) holding sign
with picture of Lisa and message "Honoring Lisa’s memory--Please don’t
let it be lost in the battle--Murdered by Scientology"]

VO: That's because after two years, the death of Lisa McPherson
remains to many a mystery.

[pics of Lisa, Ft. Harrison]
VO: Lisa, a devout Scientologist, spent the last 17 days of her life
confined to a room inside this hotel owned by Scientology. Church
records show that during that time, Lisa became violent, refusing to
eat or sleep.

[Dell Liebreich]
VO: The tragedy has left Lisa's aunt and closest living relative,
Dell Liebreich, searching for answers.

DELL LIEBREICH: I'm just very unhappy with Scientology.

KRISTEN JEANNETTE-MYERS: do you think criminal charges should be

LIEBREICH: I definitely do. I definitely do. Because I feel like
they killed her.

[pic of Lisa; Clearwater traffic]
VO: Lisa's tragic saga began on November 18, 1995. She was driving
down this road in Clearwater and got into a minor fender bender. No
one was hurt, but as a precaution, paramedics responded.

[Bonnie Portalano stepping out of ambulance]
VO: It was a routine call for Bonnie Portalano and her partner,
until the bizarre happened.

BONNIE PORTALANO: Lisa and the accident scene was behind our
ambulance. And he says, "You're never going to guess what she's
doing," speaking of Lisa, and I said, "What?" And he said, "She's
taking off her clothes."

[pic of Lisa]
VOICE OF BONNIE PORTALANO: And it was like a few seconds later she
came walking down the side of our ambulance with not a stitch on. As
I went to get her, you know, I said, "Lisa, Lisa," you know, "Why did
you take your clothes off?"

[Bonnie Portalano, back on camera]

PORTALANO: And she said, "I wanted people to think I was crazy so
then I could get some help."

[Morton Plant Hospital, hospital Patient Self-Release form signed by
VO: Paramedics took Lisa to a nearby hospital. Doctors wanted to
keep her overnight for observation, but Lisa said she wanted to leave
with a group of Scientologists who showed up at the hospital.

[Mike Rinder, Laura Vaughan]
VO: Mike Rinder is the director of the Church of Scientology
International. Laura Vaughan is an attorney representing Scientology.

LAURA VAUGHAN: What she told the people at the hospital is, she
didn't want to stay. I think if the doctor could have kept her, he
would have. But she expressed her desire to leave, and he had no
right to keep her.

JEANNETTE-MEYERS (outside Ft. Harrison): Lisa's friends brought her
here to the Fort Harrison Hotel, the spiritual headquarters of
Scientology. She arrived in good physical condition. When she left
two-and-a-half weeks later, she was near death. What happened to Lisa
McPherson during those 17 days has been the focus of an ongoing
two-year criminal investigation. Scientologists say the probe is a
witch-hunt, but church critics see it as an opportunity to expose what
they say is a dangerous cult.

[Dennis Erlich]

DENNIS ERLICH: I was in it for 15 years. I know that it is a cult.

[Older picture of Dennis, picture of L. Ron Hubbard]
VO: Dennis Erlich says that during his days in Scientology, the
standard treatment for episodes like Lisa McPherson's was isolation, a
step originally prescribed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

ERLICH: The step consists of locking a person in a room where they
cannot communicate with anyone. No one is to communicate with them.
And they're to be kept there until they supposedly come out of their
psychotic state.

VAUGHAN: To an average person, we think isolation, that means alone.
And there's nothing nefarious or wrong about her being away from work
that might have been upsetting her, away from family that might have
been upsetting her, with people from the church who were with her 24
hours a day trying to get her to rest, trying to get her to eat,
trying to help her in a way that was in accordance with her religious

[Ft. Harrison, copies of handwritten logs, picture of Lisa]
VO: The only glimpse into Lisa McPherson's 17 days at the Fort
Harrison Hotel comes from logs kept by Scientologists who were
assigned to keep watch over Lisa.

[selected portions of the logs repeated in plain text underneath:
"She was out of control", "She refused to eat", "Blabbering,
incoherent", She was violent"]
VO: Despite Scientology's efforts to keep them confidential, the
courts have made them public. The logs show Lisa's physical and
mental state deteriorating over those 17 days.

[Mike Rinder]
JEANNETTE-MEYERS: Rest and relaxation sounds like a wonderful idea.
But the records say that two days into her stay she was spitting out
food and vomiting, four days into her stay she was ashen faced and
feverish, and then she became violent, striking the attendants,
hallucinating, thinking that she's L. Ron Hubbard, being too weak to
stand, soiling herself, crying, babbling, breaking things. At that
point, isn't it clear that it's not working?

RINDER: What’s not working?

JEANNETTE-MEYERS: Resting, taking her away?

RINDER: I don't think that that's clear at all. I don't think that
you can draw inferences or conclusions from what is said. You can
read other reports and later on there is a different perspective.

JEANNETTE-MEYERS: But these are the church records.

RINDER: Of course they are.

VAUGHAN: All of those things might say to you, as a
non-Scientologist, this person should be committed. But as a
Scientologist they would say that she's not to be treated like that,
psychiatry is abuse, and that is their right to believe that
psychiatry is abuse, it's Lisa McPherson's right to believe that and
to not engage in it if she doesn't want to.

[Shirley Cage and Brenda Spencer, two of Lisa’s friends]
VO: Shirley Cage and Brenda Spencer, two of Lisa's closest friends in
the church, agree.

BRENDA SPENCER: She would not have wanted to be treated by a
psychiatrist. I know that without question.

JEANNETTE-MEYERS: Even if it would have saved her life?

SPENCER: Even without question. I don't care what the circumstances
were, she would not have wanted to be treated by a psychiatrist.

[older pics of Lisa, pic of Lisa and her parents]
VO: When you look through Lisa McPherson's photo album, there's no
hint of the tragedy to come. She was pretty and popular, a member of
her high school drill team and a good student. But when she was 14,
her brother committed suicide. Ten years later her father, a
recovering alcoholic, did the same. So when a job supervisor
introduced Lisa to the Church of Scientology at the age of 18, she
embraced it as a surrogate family.

LIEBRIECH: She came home one day and told her mom and dad that she
had joined a church. Well, they were elated. They thought that was
great. Until they found out what it was.

[pics of Lisa, CoS building in CW, Sea Org members walking down
VO: Eventually Lisa even moved from her native Texas to Scientology's
spiritual mecca in Clearwater, Florida. She joined a group of
thousands who flock here every year to
attend courses and counseling designed to overcome what they believe
are traumatic memories from previous lives.

[statement of payments Lisa made to church--total $75,275; picture of
VO: In 1994, Lisa spent more than one half of her income on those
courses. She worked for a publishing company with close ties to the
church, and helped spearhead Scientology community projects. Even her
vacations were taken on the Scientology cruise ship.

[footage of party, Lisa dancing]
SHIRLEY CAGE: She believed that that church was the most important
thing in the world, and that the good that it was doing was something
she wanted to be a part of, and she dedicated herself immensely.

[picture of Lisa receiving her Clear Certificate]
VO: In the fall of 1995 Scientology declared Lisa to be Clear, a
mental state the church says promotes inner peace and happiness.

[picture of Lisa]
VO: But what no one has been able to explain is how in two short
months that inner peace crumbled into emotional chaos.

[legal paper, part of which says "Dell Liebreich, as Personal
Representative of the Estate of LISA McPherson, Plaintiff, vs. Church
of Scientology d/b/a Church of Scientology, Flag Service Organization,
Inc., Defendants]
VO: That answer may come out through a wrongful death lawsuit the
McPherson family has filed against Scientology.

[Ken Dandar]
VO: The case is being handled by attorney Ken Dandar, who has his own
theory about what happened over those 17 days.

KEN DANDAR: So could you imagine Lisa McPherson, who is mentally
unstable according to Scientology, is having these people come in and
try to force feed her, and she's yelling and screaming at them. She's
banging on the wall. She's fighting with them. She's asking them
questions. But they are not allowed to respond to her. All they can
do is turn around and walk out the room, and then write a report to
the case supervisor and close the door behind them. And she's not
allowed to leave.

RINDER: Dandar is an idiot. That's my response to that. He hasn't
got a clue. He is the worst of the worst of what makes the American
legal system so out of control. He is an ambulance chasing gold

DANDAR: My reply to that is simple: If they had called an ambulance
for Lisa McPherson, I wouldn't be here today.

[Ft. Harrison; map of Clearwater area including nearby cities, showing
about eight cities between Clearwater and New Port Richey; picture of
VO: The Scientologists never did call an ambulance. But on the 17th
day, Lisa was at last taken to a hospital in a church van. It didn't
take Lisa to the closest hospital, which was just a few blocks away,
or the second closest, or the third, or even the fourth nearest for
that matter. Instead, they drove to New Port Richey Hospital, 45
minutes away. And it was during those 45 minutes that Lisa McPherson

DANDAR: She certainly would have made it to the hospital--it's only a
few blocks down the road--alive, and where she would have been
provided the appropriate care.

JEANNETTE-MEYERS: Why was Lisa taken so far away when it was clear
that she was ill?

[Rinder says nothing, but looks very uncomfortable]

VAUGHAN: I think that the answer to that question comes in the doctor
who was at the New Port Richey Hospital was a Scientologist. Lisa
McPherson had obviously had some mental problems, and I think that
people thought that the best situation would be for her to see someone
who was a Scientologist. The people at the hospital had no idea what
had killed her. The people who were taking care of her did not know
that she was going to die. It was an accident, and it was sudden.

[Wayne Shelur]
WAYNE SHELUR: One of the first things that gave investigators great
pause was the inordinate loss of weight on the part of Lisa McPherson.

VO: Wayne Shelur is with the Clearwater Police Department.

SHELUR: The paramedics who attended her at the scene of the wreck
estimated her weight to be around 150 pounds. But once she was
pronounced dead her weight at the time of death was 108 pounds and her
appearance was rather cadaverous.

JEANNETTE-MEYERS: She lost more than 40 pounds in 17 days?

SHELUR: That's what it would appear.

[autopsy report; death certificate; Fort Harrison; highlighted words
from autopsy report "Bed rest and severe dehydration"]
VO: An autopsy indeed showed that Lisa McPherson died of a pulmonary
embolism, a blood clot that traveled to her lung. But according to
the coroner’s office, it was caused in part by what happened during
those 17 days. The autopsy report says Lisa's death was due to bed
rest and severe dehydration.

[Joan Wood in court room; footage of Lisa; autopsy photos of Lisa’s
VO: In fact, the medical examiner, Dr. Joan Wood, theorized that
Lisa McPherson had little to no fluids for the last five to ten days
of her life. She also believes that Lisa had bruises and insect bites
all over her body.

[Scieno picket--signs say "Sid Klein, what’s your crime?", "Give
protection, not prejudice", "Dead beat dads and child molesters stay
VO: The church, which says it will prove the lab findings are flawed,
has taken to the streets to protest what they say is a smear campaign
by the Clearwater government to discredit the church.

[Fort Harrison; Clearwater courtroom]
VO: Both sides now await a decision by a Florida prosecutor on
possible criminal charges in the Lisa McPherson case, a decision that
could come any day.

[Dell Liebreich and Kristin Jeannette-Meyers walking]
VO: Meanwhile, Dell Liebreich's battle with Scientology is a civil
matter that has turned decidedly uncivil.

RINDER: What her motivation is? Money. Pure and simple. She is
pretending to represent the interests of Lisa McPherson. She is
representing Lisa McPherson's estate. I can assure you that the last
thing that Lisa McPpherson would be doing would be suing her church.

LIEBREICH: To them this is bad PR, but I want people to find out, you
know, all over the world, for it not to ever happen to anybody else.
What happened to Lisa.

[CW candlelight vigil, bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace"]

BRYANT GUMBEL (in studio): Heber Jentzsch is the president of the
Church of Scientology International. He's in Los Angeles. Mr.
Jentzsch, good evening.

HEBER JENTZSCH (on TV studio monitor): Good evening.

GUMBEL: Those affiliated with Scientology ran an orchestrated
campaign pressuring us to not run the piece you just watched. Do you
not consider the mysterious death of a young woman in the care of
Scientologists as a valid reason for outside questions?

JENTZSCH: I consider the fact that your people were given
information, Bryant, that they did not put on the show, and there were
various specific information that they could have used. Joan Wood,
the medical examiner, she never did the autopsy on this case. And
that was known to your people. It was done by a Dr. Davis, and he did
the actual autopsy, OK? And in his autopsy, he said he did not agree
with Joan Wood, the medical examiner. Davis did about 25 autopsies,
24 were completed. One was not completed. The reason that one, on
Lisa McPherson, was not completed was because his notes were not
available. They were not available because Joan Wood, the medical
examiner, destroyed those notes. Then, she goes on national tabloid TV
and starts blabbing about all these kinds of accusations and so forth.
That is sickening to me. It is sickening that it has to be done that
way when your people had the information. And then she says to Davis,
who did--

GUMBEL: Mr. Jentzsch--

JENTZSCH: Let me finish this one point--

GUMBEL: Go ahead quickly.

JENTZSCH: She did not let Davis talk. She said, "Don't talk to the
media, don’t talk to anybody about this. Don't talk to the church,
don’t talk to the police." And she ordered him not to do so. That's
obstruction of justice. That's just one of the things that she did.
your people had that. OK. Why is it that's not there?

GUMBEL: Mr. Jentzsch, your people were well represented in the piece
throughout. Mike Rinder was well heard. Laura Vaughan was well
heard. Let me ask you, your people had--your people had every right
to intervene with Scientology principles. No one disputes that. But
at what point, sir, does Miss McPherson have a right to say, I've had
enough, I want out?

JENTZSCH: She didn't say that, and I have with me the psychiatric

BRYANT: Your own--

JENTZSCH: Which was given here. She said--she said, I want to go
home with my friends in the congregation. That’s what she said--

GUMBEL: That was before the 17 day stay at the hotel. Mr.--

JENTZSCH (holding up document): This is the document I have right
here. This is the document, right here--

GUMBEL: Mr. Jentzsch, Mr. Jentzsch, your own logs show that she's
fighting with your people, yelling at them, pleading with them, but
they are not responding, not letting her leave. At what point, sir,
does that become a legitimate case of someone being held against their

JENTZSCH (raising voice): Our people were helping her in every
possible way. If you look at those notes, you will see very clearly
that those people were heroes. They were taking abuse, they were
attacked and so forth. They loved her. And the people who are saying
these things hated her guts while she was a Scientologist. They hated
her completely and they hate her in death. They--our people loved
her, they respected her. And Lisa was a church member. She was
always a church member--

GUMBEL: Mr. Jentzsch, even if I accept that those people loved her
and wanted to take care of her, your own logs clearly depict a woman
with a deteriorating mental condition and failing health. Do your
people have no responsibility to have those maladies professionally

JENTZSCH: You're saying that a psychiatrist is going to do something
which is gonna be better. You know, there s a case in Miami, Florida
which dealt with this directly. And there was a fellow who was also
dramatizing like this and carrying on. You know what they did to him?
Eleven attendants jumped him. They threw a blanket around his head.
They kneed him in the back, they knocked him down--

GUMBEL: I never mentioned a psychiatrist, Mr. Jentzsch--.

JENTZSCH (raising voice): No, no, well I'm telling you because that's
what, that’s what you're saying. You’re calling those people
professionals. They’re not professionals--

GUMBEL: She was in failing physical health. Do they not have any
responsibility to get maladies addressed?

JENTZSCH: The last--the last time when she was--she started to
deteriorate, it was very rapid. They took her to a hospital. but
those--those--you're saying it should be a psychiatrist. I'm saying
that if they went to a psychiatrist, she would have been destroyed by

GUMBEL: I never mentioned the word "psychiatrist", sir--

JENTZSCH (raising voice more): I know, but you and I talked earlier
today and I did mention it and you know that that's part of this case
and you know that was part of the--the problem with this, okay?
Psychiatrists destroy people's lives. They have the highest incidents
of rape and so forth. She didn’t want to go there. It’s very clear--

GUMBEL: They have the highest incidents of rape?

JENTZSCH (raising voice more): Of any profession. There's 2,500
indictments against psychiatrists in this country last year alone.
Why would you go to a bunch of people like that who use electric
shock? And that causes brain damage. That destroys people lives.
She didn't want to go there. She had a right not to go there with a

GUMBEL: Heber Jentzsch--

JENTZSCH: This lady was taken care of. You know, Mr. Gumbel--

GUMBEL: Heber Jentzsch--

JENTZSCH: That situation down there is bigotry. And I told you
about it. We have the information. The 11th circuit court of appeals

GUMBEL: Heber Jentzsch--

JENTZSCH: That there was--

GUMBEL: Thank you, sir--

JENTZSCH: There was a fervor against it. This is just incredible--

GUMBEL: Sir,--

JENTZSCH: They said it was patently offensive--

GUMBEL: Sir, sir, I will have to let that be the last word--

JENTZSCH: I’m sorry. But, you know--

GUMBEL: Thank you. We'll be right back.