Following is the first episode in our new series “Meet an SP”. Of course the first episode had to be Ernest & Gaye Corbett. Below is their version of events which makes for horrifying reading. But beyond the horror, what shines through are two people committed to a philosophy that they see can make positive change. They are far too humble to say, so we will preface their story with a little mention of their contributions to LRH and to Scientology.
- They are Silver Meritorious contributors to the IAS. That’s $500,000
- They are Triple Cornerstone members of the super power building. That’s $100,000
- They have paid in excess of R12,000,000 to Ideal Orgs
- They have sponsored the training of African Scientologists to come to Joburg to train. They sponsored flights, accommodation, food and their training. R30,000 per month for 5 years, or R1,800,000.
- Since 1987 they have trained 4000 teachers and 3000 students on study tech through Education Alive projects they have run in various rural areas.
- Education Alive’s national offices have worked rent free in one of their centres for the last 10 years.
- The executives and some staff of Joburg have lived rent free in houses they own.
The above contributions are by no means exhaustive. For 41 years they have been there to help whenever it was asked of them.
SPs? You decide. Here is their story:
In the last few days we have come to an end and a beginning.
In 1964 Ernest bought a copy of DMSMH and never read it. In 1971 after we got married we were moving house and while repacking books, I saw the copy of Dianetics Ernest had bought all those years prior. I sat down and read it, start to finish. I insisted that we find somewhere to get Dianetics auditing. I had been unable to fall pregnant and I felt Dianetics and the auditing described in it would address this issue. We found the local org in Durban which neither of us liked it very much, it seemed a little weird the way the staff stared at us. We looked a little more and some months later we found the Jory Mission in Durban. After doing 100 hours of TR 0 the mission reg, George Southworth, suggested I get 25 hours of auditing.
Neville Jory (bless his soul) audited me for 25 hours, after which he asked how I felt. I said I hadn’t handled what I wanted handled, namely to fall pregnant. Neville immediately re-credited my 25 hours and we continued. During this second batch of auditing I fell pregnant. After hearing that I had gone back track, Ernest demanded his own auditing!
Since then we have never stopped. We have always been involved, always looking for ways to forward Scientology and to help others. We have always been connected to orgs.
In 1976 I went Clear on the Apollo with David Mayo as C/S. Ernest was the first public at Flag after their move from the ship to Daytona Beach. I joined him there later and we both had L 10 personally C/S’d by LRH . I was then fortunate enough to have another 4 pilot rundowns delivered to me, again C/S’d by David Mayo and LRH. Ernest was asked to go on a mission to NY to promote the Ls and talked to hundreds of people at different booming missions in NY.
After returning from Flag we joined staff. I became the ED and Ernest was the HES. In 1979 Jens Bogvat arrived on a mission and declared Ernest and removed me as the ED.
After stewing for a few weeks we got on a plane and went to Flag to see the IJC. We sat outside his office. After being ignored for 3 days he asked what we wanted. We asked if he had listened to the tapes of the Comm-Ev. He hadn’t. He took the afternoon to listen to these tapes after which he phoned Joburg and ordered a review comm-ev. Within 24 hours the review was held, the recommendations cancelled and Ernest’s declare was lifted.
We did not return to staff but instead spent time moving up the Bridge. We both got through OT V by 1982. I audited on OT VII until I attested in 1988. 6 years of auditing on OT VII without a single sec check. I completed OT VII in 1988. Ernest started OT VII in 1987 and completed a year later. He didn’t feel he had completed but was told he was finished.
By this time we had both done L12 as well. In 1997 We were recalled to Flag and put back on OT VII which we completed in 2004. This time everyone on OT VII was required to do sec checks every six months. this by the way is completely out tech. In C/S series 73 LRH specifically bans sec checking during a major action and which must only be done if the Pre OT is doing badly or in trouble. We completed OT VIII for the second time in 2004 as well. Again after grueling sec checks on the ship. I could never understand why one would need all this sec checking after having completed OT VII and being completely keyed out. Of course it never occurred to us that this was a good money earner as by the time you get through the wall of sec checking there is a fair amount of protest at having to continually look for non existent overts and withholds.
In 2005 we went back to Flag and re-did all 3 L’s. A year later I returned as I had attention on L12. Review insisted I redo all 3. I did them for a 3rd time.
The point of the above is that we had a lot of auditing, a lot of training. We never stopped. Much of the auditing we had was good, some of it not so good. But we never stopped. We were always doing something both personally and on the 3rd and 4th dynamic.
The above hopefully gives the picture of the sort of people we are when it comes to our approach to Scientology. It was front and centre in our lives, always.
With this in mind when we were approached to help in securing a new building for Joburg we were only too happy to help. The year was 1999. Joburg org was housed in a terrible building in downtown Johannesburg. The area had deteriorated and was dangerous. It repelled it’s public.
A new building was located by Pandy Katakuzinos in Kensington. It was perfect! Everyone who saw it loved the idea of our local and continental org being there. In order to secure it, Ernest and I put up the money and signed the sale agreement. We took this upon ourselves as we didn’t want the org to lose the building. This was paid back through Sea Org reserves some time later. This was prior to the concept of Ideal Orgs. This was just an org trying to be in a better location.
We got very involved in the process of renovating this org as did our son, Mark. Between 2000 and 2002 the idea of “Ideal Orgs” was born and instead of Joburg just handling their own org it became an”IDEAL” Org. When the org was opened by the venerable COB in November 2003 we were immensely proud and for the next 18 months it seemed our efforts were well worth it. Joburg expanded and was announced as Saint Hill Size in March 2005.
However the attention of management moved to the next org to be purchased, Cape Town. A building was found which had just been purchased for R9 million. The new owner threw out a price of R18 million at the church and they jumped and accepted. They had R9 million in hand and this was paid over as a deposit. At that time the plan was to raise a bond for the remaining R9 million which they couldn’t do. The pressure was on to find the balance before they lost the R9 million deposit. We were asked to help and we duly did, raising the bond ourselves to secure the building. This was paid over a year or two through fund raising efforts. Again we put ourselves at risk to save the irresponsible and naive way the SO was managing this process.
The Cape Town building is actually 3 buildings. We sent several requests “uplines” to sell the smaller building and utilise the funds from this to pay for the renovations. It wasn’t that it was disapproved, there was simply no response. To this day (8 years later) the building remains unoccupied by the org.
By this time it seemed that there was an effort to apply a “one size fits all” approach to Ideal Orgs. On a visit to the ship in 2005 we asked to meet with Angie Blankenship who was the WDC Ideal Orgs. We explained our concerns. She was utterly disinterested in what we had to say.
By 2006 there was only one more building required, this one for Durban. The old Westville Hotel was on sale for R5 million. We felt it was a lovely building for an org and were excited to get it. However, Ken Krieger and probably others, disagreed and instead another building was found for R16 million. This building would later be torn down and it remains an empty lot.
Around this time Charmaine Rodgers, of Superpower Reg infamy, came to South Africa. She had a meeting with me. Or rather, she showed up one day at our offices to meet with us. Our secretary informed me that prior to me arriving in my office Charmaine spent time rifling through the papers on my desk. Among the papers was a sale agreement of a shopping centre we were in the process of selling. The profits of this sale were to be used to build a new shopping centre.
Several days later Ernest received a call from an MAA at Flag informing him that senior Sea Org executives were waiting for us at our house and we had better get there pronto. Ken Krieger, Alex Faust, Elmien Lochner and Robert Bokelmann had invited themselves into our home. Their demand was that we pay R5 million for Durban Org. They were quite convinced we had the money and it was obvious they had data about our financial affairs, possibly from the data that Charmaine had gotten from our desk papers. What followed was a 4 hour gang reg interview with all 5 demanding in Nazi fashion that we pay this money. After hours we relented and agreed to pay R1 million. This went down in Ernest’s memory as the worst experience he had ever had in Scientology and perhaps even his life.
During this time it was not unusual to be followed by one or more of the above people trying to get a meeting with us. They would wait outside our premises, follow us to meetings and then follow us back home and ask to meet. It was constant hammering and begging for money, not only for Ideal Orgs but for the basics or someone’s air fare or training or or or!
A week after agreeing to pay R1 million we were visited by 3 of the Durban OT Committee. They begged us to help by loaning them a further R1 million that they would pay back with interest. After some time we agreed. This money was never paid back. Interest on the loan was paid for a few months and then never again.
As you can imagine we had started to fall out of love with this whole idea of Ideal Orgs. But worse was to come. So much worse.
Our realisation at this point was that for Sea Org members to act in this unprofessional fashion, with no compassion, had to mean they were PTS. But PTS to whom?
The full R16 millon had now been raised to purchase the Durban org building. However one Tuesday afternoon We arrived at our office to find Alex Faust, the CO CMO in my office. He broke down in tears, quite literally weeping and explained that a cheque of R5 million from Peter Cooke had bounced. This put the church in breach of the sale agreement. See the full story on that here. Alex was terrified that the church would lose the building and the parishioners their donations. Of course he was in terror that he would be RPF’d. He was in phone communication with COB every night. He had not been able to tell him that this disaster was looming. We agreed to put up security for the R5 million only after Alex had promised that Peter Cook would be rectifying this breach within two weeks and we only needed to put up a guarantee for those two weeks. Neither the Church nor Peter Cooke ever made good on the money and we were left to cover it.
In 2009 Sea Org management issued a general interrogatory to the field in an attempt to discover “who was trying to stop Ideal Orgs”. After the interrogatory both of us were called in to receive “Roll Back”. On the day of the Roll Back, I discovered that we had a R5 million tax bill. This was related to our donations since we had not received tax certificates. We arrived for our roll backs completely out ruds. Despite explaining this I was told to sit down and pick up the cans. Ernest had the same handling and his own roll back. Conducting the roll back was a young CMO Sea Org member, Nikita Byrnes, who was not Clear and a CL IV auditor. She did some roll back then proceeded to attempt to pull withholds. I’m not sure how I got through this but the whole process lasted 2 hours. After getting out of the auditing room we were immediately ushered into the conference room with Ken Krieger and Brittany Terpstra (?) who demanded R5 million for the IAS to be used for renovations of the Castle. This reg interview lasted until midnight at which point we got up and left with Brittany screaming “YOU WILL PAY!”.
Robert Bokelmann phoned me the next day saying that I had to come back to the org to complete the roll back. At that point I told Robert to take his roll back and shove it up his backside. He threatened “the next ethics gradient”. I asked that he please go ahead.
A few days later Ken Krieger and Claire Anderson arrived at our offices. An off-the-meter interview was done to “repair” the roll back disaster after which Ken then said, basically, “give us R500,000 and we’ll call it quits”. We paid the money to be done with it.
From that point it seemed we were left alone. It was abundantly clear that we were very unhappy.
In 2010 a Class IX auditor came from the Freewinds and asked us to come in for more roll back. Ernest agreed but I avoided it. Ernest’s realisation from this latest round of roll back was that compassion no longer had any part in this church.
Then we saw the return of Charmaine Rodgers to our shores. She contacted me and said she just had to see one of our lodges! I arranged for she and her mother, Sadie Lurie, to stay at our Safari Lodge. There was one room available. Charmaine arrived with her mom AND her brother! The staff didn’t know what to do but Charmaine insisted that they could all sleep in the same bed. When Charmaine got back to Joburg she took a room at our Waterfall Lodge. She said she would only be there a night. One week later after enjoying five star service with no further explanation she left without so much as a “Thanks”.
In 2011 another Class IX auditor arrived in South Africa. He came to our offices and we had a long chat. He then asked that we come to the org as he had a special C/S R-factor, just for us. I had reservations but Ernest felt he had come all this way and they should respect that. Along we went. We were invited to pick up the cans for some more roll back! This auditor pulled out pages of reports from Charmaine Rodgers about all the things Ernest & I had said while she was here.
At this point the relationship with our church was forever severed. This was comm from a Class IX from the Ship that was based on a lie with zero compassion. With no care.
We knew our management was PTS. We saw at this point that they were PTS to their seniors. Our doubt formula began. We took a trip and visited 6 Ideal Orgs around the world: Joburg, Berlin, Malmo, London, Pasedena and Rome. We concluded from this trip that the Ideal Org program was an utter failure for the following reasons:
- These buildings had expenses: Rates, taxes, maintenance that orgs would not be able to afford
- Their fields were decimated. They were broke and afraid of coming to their orgs for fear of being further regged.
- Scientologists were disillusioned with OT. They weren’t doing well so why carry on?
- All the people we met along the way were, almost without exception, not doing well.
It was time to do research for our doubt formula. On the Internet. Even if it meant we would fall pregnant or go blind. Our awakening was complete. We pieced together the history of our church and we now, finally, understood everything that had happened over the last 40 years. The 1982 mission destruction, why so many auditors left the church. Why we were small and going nowhere.
During our research which lasted the better part of 14 months we discovered two very important facts: One, “Command Intention” was not the same as “LRH Intention” and secondly, the Church does NOT have a monopoly on the tech.
No-one can say we didn’t give it our best shot, that we didn’t try to resolve this matter.
From that point the route was clear. We would no longer be part of this Church but we would continue, as we are, to be supporters of this philosophy and the man who founded it, L. Ron Hubbard.
Now I have been declared suppressive for selling t-shirts in 1982 and Ernest has always been an SP!
And that, friends, is our story. It’s beautiful out here. We hope you join us!
All our love,
Ernest & Gaye Corbett