Brainwashing in Scientology's Rehabilitation Force (RPF) - Part 2
by Dr. Stephen A. Kent
The Creation of the RPF
The RPF built directly upon the punitive, some might say, "brainwashing" role that the DPF had developed. Hubbard's motivations for establishing the program in January, 1974 included personal retaliation. Having gone ashore in late 1973 to ride his motorcycle on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Hubbard took a spill and was injured. Recovering on board his flagship, Hubbard blamed the accident on unnamed crew members whom he believed were not carrying out his orders with sufficient diligence. In response, he ordered the creation of the RPF,7 with the intention of assigning to it anyone who had a "'counter- intention' to his orders or wishes..., along with all trouble- makers and back-sliders" (Miller, 1987: 321; see Kent interview with Pignotti, 1997: 6; Kent interview with Ernesto, 1997: 2).
Researchers do not have copies of the first three Flag Orders establishing the RPF, but do have the fourth one, which is a May 30, 1977 twice-revised version of a January 7, 1974 issue. Some time between its inception and late May, 1977, the RPF had assumed the punitive functions previously handled by the EPF and, presumably, the DPF. Sea Org members entered the RPF if they had dramatic indicator reads (called "rock-slams") while being counseled or "audited" on Scientology's confessional and lie detector machine called the e-meter (which gives readings about galvinic skin responses). Such indicator- or needle-jumps supposedly indicated "a hidden evil intention on the subject or question under discussion or auditing" (Hubbard, 1975: 357). Others received RPF assignments for poor production on their jobs or posts, poor personality indicators (presumably such as depression, grumbling, and doubting Hubbard or his techniques), and obvious trouble making (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 1).
In considerable detail the RPF document laid out the framework of forcible confinement, physical and social maltreatment, intensive reindoctrination, and forced confessions that were (and are) central to the program's operation. Certain passages, for example, outlined the basic rules about forcible confinement. Inmates could not leave the facility, and could travel between buildings only when they were accompanied by security guards (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 10). Physical maltreatment occurred within the confines of sometimes demanding and dangerous work to which they were assigned. Specifically inmates had to carry out eleven maintenance functions--interior and exterior building cleaning; bathroom cleaning; general painting; internal building renovations; storage, passageway, and stairway cleaning; other "large scale" projects outside of sleeping, kitchen, or eating areas; "garage cleaning"; "elevator and elevator shaft cleaning"; engine room and boiler room cleaning; furniture set-ups for events; and "garbage disposal." They also could receive special assignments from specific Scientology personnel (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 3). They were supposed to get seven hours sleep (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 4), and they were allowed to call on a Scientology Medical Officer (who need not be a medical doctor) only if they were running a temperature or suffer an injury that requires medication or treatment (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 6). Inmates were allowed to eat normal meals unless doing so deprived Sea Org members who were not RPFers (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 9). Their use of bathrooms and showers was restricted (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology. 1977: 11), and, "at RPF expense," inmates were allowed "[a] minimum number of circulating fans" in their study and sleeping areas "where there is NO other circulation of air easily available" (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 11 [emphasis and capitals in original]). By adding together the time allotments that inmates had to perform various duties, we can deduce that each day people were supposed to receive seven hours sleep, study and audit for five hours, take one-half hour for each of three meals, spend thirty minutes a day on hygiene, and perform physical work for ten hours.
Policies involving social maltreatment were numerous. Inmates had to wear black or dark blue boilersuits (i.e, a type of heavy workclothes [Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 1]). They were barred from all normal social activities in the facility or the community (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 2-3, 11), and any problems that this restriction might cause regarding non-Scientology commitments required an immediate report to superiors (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 3). As the policy succinctly stated, "[a] member of the RPF is a member of the RPF and of nothing outside of it, till released" (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 3). Depending upon inmates' stage of progress, pay was either one-quarter or one-half the normal Sea Org rates, "unless withheld or fined by a justice action" (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 9; see 9 and 10).8 Inmates' sleeping quarters were isolated from those of other Sea Org members, and were supposed to conform to fire, health, and safety regulations (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 10). Inmates could not speak to regular Sea Org members, public Scientologists, or members of the public unless they had to in order to avoid "impoliteness" (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 10). A spouse could have a conjugal visit with his or her partner one night a week in an authorized area provided that the person's RPF progress was satisfactory (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 10). Likewise, spouses could visit with their partners or school-age children once daily during meals or at night if their progress was satisfactory and they refrained from discussing their RPF situations. Additional meal visits with pre-school children could be arranged (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 10).
Intensive study of Hubbard's ideology was built into the program, with inmates allotted "5 hours study or auditing" daily (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 4, see 6). Some evidence indicates that RPF inmates in the mid-1970s could complete the program in several months, but later accounts indicate that people frequently took over a year, and served RPF sentences more than once during their Scientology careers.
The Creation of the RPF's RPF
On April 24, 1974, a Flag Conditions Order established the RPF's RPF. This program received people who were on the RPF but not progressing satisfactorily, or who thought that their assignment to the RPF was humorous. As Hubbard reported in his "management technology" dictionary:
[t]he first RPF's RPF assignment was made because the person considered their [sic] RPF assignment amusing, an award [sic] and was therefore unable to recognize a need for redemption or any means to effect it. Until such time as the person recognized this need and of their [sic] own self-determinism requested to be included in the RPF redemption actions, the [RPF's RPF] restrictions applied" (Hubbard, 1975: 451 [emphasis in original]).
People on the RPF's RPF were segregated from the RPF inmates in their work assignments, eating, sleeping, roll-call, and other activities. They were not paid, did not receive auditing, were not to receive more than six hours sleep, and received triple ethics penalties for offenses. Reflecting the fact that the RPF's RPF began on a ship, inmates in the program were allowed to work only "on mud boxes in the E/R [engine room]." Moreover, they were allowed to communicate only with the person in charge of the RPF, and could "not join RPF fully until acceptable amends [were] made to all RPF members" (Hubbard, 1975: 451 [emphasis in original]).
Remarkably, this summary of the RPF's RPF is available in a Scientology dictionary to which members of the public have easy access. Not surprisingly, however, this same information does not appear in Scientology's latest dissemination effort--its World Wide Web page. Sponsored by the Church of Scientology International, it makes no mention of the RPF's RPF and describes the RPF in terms that make it sound like a program of confidence- building and personal reinvigoration. According to the webpage, the RPF is "a second chance" for "Sea Org staff members who would otherwise be subject to dismissal for serious and/or continuous ecclesiastical violations"--an opportunity to experience "complete rehabilitation" for "personnel 'burn out'" (Church of Scientology International, 1996). "Participants" in the program receive "both study and religious counseling on a daily basis to address areas of difficulty in their personal lives." They also "work eight hours a day as a team on tasks which improve the facilities of the Church by which they are employed and improve teamwork and coordination among the participants. The work allows the individual to regain confidence in himself [sic] and the pride of accomplishment." Sea Org members who have gone through the program supposedly "attest to its enormous personal benefit, and express their appreciation for being able to avail themselves of redemption as opposed to dismissal" (Church of Scientology International, 1996). This public relations portrayal of the RPF stands in dramatic contrast to accounts about it that many former "participants" provide after they are no longer under the direct control of Scientology's policies that punish persons who criticize the organization or its doctrines. Each of the topics that the webpage mentions in a favorable light--study, religious counseling/auditing, 'eight hour' work days that rebuild confidence and pride, employment conditions and pay, and graduates' expressions of appreciation--receive very different interpretations by the former Sea Org members who provided the information for my RPF study.
RPF Consistencies and Variations
While the RPF stories that former members recount show remarkable consistencies over time and distance, variations occur with respect to facilities, personnel, and immediate organizational demands. Virtually all of the accounts, however, illustrate how the RPF attempted to control the bodies of its inmates through a variety of physical demands, abuses, and work obligations while at the same time it attempted to control their minds through extensive auditing, coursework, confessions, and success stories.
Assembling the affidavits, interviews, internet postings, and correspondence that I have collected, I have: two RPF accounts from the Apollo (the ship on which Hubbard lived from 1967 to 1975); seven from the Fort Harrison Hotel complex in Clearwater, Florida; one from La Quinta, California; one from Indio, California; four from Gilman Hot Springs, California (which informants sometimes called either "Hemet" after the nearby town or "Gold" according to the Scientology name); three from the Happy Valley camp near Gilman Hot Springs and the Soboba Indian Reserve; seven from the Cedars complex in Los Angeles; one from an unnamed ship docked near Los Angeles; one from East Grinstead, Sussex (England); and one from an RPF forerunner in Copenhagen, Denmark. Six informants went through the RPF's RPF-- one on the Apollo; two in the Fort Harrison complex; one in the Cedars complex, and two in either Gilman Hot Springs or Happy Valley.
1. Forcible Confinement
Forcible confinement, which is one of the prerequisites for social scientists utilizing the brainwashing term, specifically occurred in nine RPF accounts and two RPF's RPF accounts. Indeed, seven informants had stories about their (sometimes successful) escape attempts from the program and the guards assigned to prevent them from doing so. These accounts stand in stark contrast to Scientology's insistence that "participation" in an RPF program is voluntary.
Beginning May 30, 1977, all Scientologists entering the RPF program were supposed to sign a legal declaration (presumably, which indicated that the person was on the program voluntarily [see Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 9]). An undated "RPF Waiver" form likely indicates what such a legal declaration said:
I, ________, do hereby agree that the sole reason the RPF was created is so that the individual could redeem himself [sic] and become a productive staff member.
Having been fully informed of what I have done or been accused of to warrant my assignment to the RPF, I further agree that I enter this program with full agreement and of my own choice[.]
I understand that I may at any time during the program decide to quit the program, knowing that should I do so, it is the policy of the Church of Scientology to dismiss or expel me from the Church of Scientology.
Knowing that I am rightfully transferred to the Rehabilitation Project Force, I understand that if I choose not to undertake the program, I accept the alternative of dismissal from the Church of Scientology.
I further agree that I undertake this program on my own responsibility, and may hold no one else responsible for accidents or occurrences on the RPF (Anonymous, n.d.)
The document was to have been signed, dated, and witnessed. Indeed, as the form suggests, some people apparently do "route out" of Sea Org amidst their RPF assignments, and Scientologist "SB" routed out from the RPF's RPF in the unusually short time of two weeks after indicating that he wanted to do so (SB, 1998c: 1).
Forced, however, to choose between expulsion from a group to which people had devoted their lives or banishment from what they consider to be the "only road to total freedom," people's "choice" to enter the RPF hardly seems voluntary. More dramatically, however, many former inmates insist that their entry into and continuation in the RPF program was coerced. For example, Dennis Erlich's experience in the RPF and the RPF's RPF at the Fort Harrison in late 1978 began with two "guards" arriving to escort him to the program. He did not resist them because "it was sort of implicit that [if] you wanna [sic] fight you're gonna [sic] get the shit kicked out of you...." (Kent Interview with Erlich, 1997: 9). On the other side of the continent at roughly the same period, Patti had "two big burly men" show up and say, "'you're going on the RPF...'" (Kent Interview with Patti, 1997: 19). Former member David Mayo told a more dramatic story in his affidavit, insisting that "[o]n August 29, 1982, David Miscavige, and others, acting on the orders of L. Ron Hubbard, kidnapped me and subsequently kept me captive and physically and mentally abused me for six months" (Mayo, 1994: 2-3).
Other people spoke about either being forcibly confined themselves (for example, Whitfield, 1989: 6) or seeing others who were. Former member-turned-critic, Dennis Erlich, joked about his RPF assignment, and, in accordance with Hubbard's policy, wound up in the RPF's RPF in Fort Harrison's basement. Guarded down there for ten days, Erlich states that he spent the first day or two "locked in a wired cage..." (Kent Interview with Erlich, 1997: 8). When Nefertiti (which is the presumed former member's alias) found herself in the RPF's RPF in the same basement a decade or so later, she met a woman (she claims) who was "in her thirties, feverish, [her] entire body poured with sweat [and] was wearing chains. She had a chain about twenty inches long linking her two ankles so she had to do small hasty steps" (Nefertiti, 1997: 3). Tonya Burden swore, "under pains and penalties of perjury" (Burden, 1980: 12) that she "personally observed a person chained to pipes in the boiler room in the Fort Harrison building for a period of weeks" (Burden, 1980: 10). Likewise, in an affidavit, Hana Whitfield swore that, while she was on the RPF in the Fort Harrison, Lyn Froyland was assigned to the RPF's RPF and "was chained to a pipe down there [in the basement] for weeks, under guard. She was taken meals and allowed toilet breaks, but no other hygiene" (Whitfield, 1994: 42).
The most extensive account of confinement comes from former member Andre Tabayoyon, who spoke about the Gilman Hot Springs base (on which RPF members worked) having a security system that included "the perimeter fence, the ultra razor barriers, the lighting of the perimeter fence, electronic monitors, the concealed microphones, the ground sensors, the motion sensors and hidden cameras which were installed all over the area--even outside the base" (Tabayoyon, 1994: 8). Tabayoyon spoke about working on the base's security system in 1991, but back in January, 1983, unwilling RPF victim Julie Mayo found her freedom blocked by a guarded fence at Gilman Hot Springs. Taking what may have been the only escape option she had, Julie Mayo waited one morning until the guard opened the gate to allow someone to walk across the street for breakfast, and slipped out to the road, unnoticed, before it closed (J. Mayo, 1996: 8-9). If Jesse Prince's account is accurate, then many of the Scientology staff at Hemet were armed, as were the guards for the Happy Valley RPF (Kent Interview with Prince, 1998: 49).
Other escape stories indicate that RPF victims were, essentially, imprisoned in situations where they had not given consent (much less informed consent) for their captors to hold them. Vicki Aznaran, for example, "and two other victims escaped from Happy Valley onto the Sobo[b]a Indian Reservation where they were pursued on motorcycles by guards of Happy Valley. Vicki and the other victims were rescued by residents of the reservation who picked them up in a pick-up truck and spirited them to a motel in the City of Hemet" (Aznaran and Aznaran, 1988: 12).
Former member Pat escaped by using several elaborate ruses. First, she concocted a story that convinced guards to allow her to use the telephone. Then she called a non-Scientology friend and gave explicit instructions about where her friend should be the next night (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997b: 3). The next night, she concocted a second story that managed to get her near to the street where her friend was waiting. Manipulating the guard who was with her, Pat managed to get enough distance from him so that she got inside the car:
slammed the door shut and said, 'Go!.' [My friend] hit the door locks and [the friend] stepped on the gas.... It was an awful, awful time, and there I was in this car not knowing where I was going, forty cents in my purse.... But I couldn't be there anymore; I couldn't be there another minute. I couldn't handle another second of the degradation (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997b: 4).
As the car roared away, Scientologists who witnessed her escape screamed at her. Apparently as punishment for having let Pat escape, the man assigned to watch her ended up in the RPF's RPF (Kent Interview with Prince, 1998: 31). According to Jesse Prince (who had been in that RPF at one time), one RPFer somehow managed to get over the barbed wire fence surrounding the new Los Angeles facilities (that were under renovation) and got away (Kent Interview with Prince, 1998: 25). Apparently another escapee returned to the area of the building complex several days later, and shot to death his wife (Kent Interview with Prince, 1998: 29).
Additional escape accounts exist, all of them indicating that people were in the RPF program against their wills. Nevertheless, some people allowed themselves to be talked back into the program (or into a related program) by Scientology retrieval teams sent out to bring them back. As Anne Rosenblum recounted, for example, she escaped the RPF from the Fort Harrison in Clearwater by slipping out of sick bay and jumping over a wall (Rosenblum, n.d.: 6). She fled to the house of a Scientology friend who, apparently, informed the organization, and (along with four Scientology 'escorts') convinced her to return and "route out" of the Sea Org through standard Scientology procedures. In a confused emotional state, she returned to the Fort Harrison and remained under guard as she went through a number of Scientology hearings in preparation for the organization releasing her.9 Hubbard happened to offer a general amnesty to RPFers at this moment, and she and several others accepted the offer. She indicated that the organization ran her through security checks "concerning whether we were taking any Scientology data with us, what our intentions were when we left etc." Scientologists searched her luggage for any items that she might have been trying to remove, then had her sign an affidavit that listed all of her alleged crimes "of this lifetime," which the organization culled from her supposedly confidential auditing files (Rosenblum, n.d.: 7).
Robert Vaughn Young told me:
I escaped down the river bed one night. Planned it for a long time. Got into Hemet and they [i.e., members of Scientology retrieval team] found me there at a motel. And this is where you get into the power of the organization--and without anyone laying a hand on me, I was convinced to go back to the RPF (Kent Interview with Young, 1994: 22).
On a second escape attempt, however, he was not so lucky--he got caught (Kent Interview with Young, 1994: 22). Apparently Hana Whitfield also escaped the RPF (in Clearwater), but she, too, re-entered after pressure from Scientologists who found her (Whitfield, 1989: 7).
Current Scientology opponent Lawrence (Larry) Wollersheim also was caught trying to escape from the RPF operating on a ship in 1974. (Presumably this ship was in the Los Angeles area, and almost certainly it was the Excalibur that was docked at a pier in nearby Long Beach [see Wakefield, 1990: 2; Schomer, 1985: 23]). As a court decision in his favour determined:
[u]ltimately, Wollersheim felt he could bear the [RPF] regime no longer. He attempted to escape from the ship because as he testified later: 'I was dying and losing my mind.' But his escape effort was discovered. Several Scientology members seized Wollersheim and held him captive. They released him only when he agreed to remain and continue with the auditing and other 'religious practices' taking place on the vessel (California Court of Appeal, 1989: 9274).
The court used this example as "evidence" that Wollersheim "accepted some of his auditing under threat of physical coercion" (California Court of Appeal, 1989: 9274). While it would be unwise to generalize from these accounts and suggest that all inmates in RPF programs were in them involuntarily, certainly some of them had not consented or chosen to be there.10
2. Accounts of Physical Maltreatment
Undoubtedly the physical maltreatment that many people experienced in various RPF programs was a factor in their desire to escape. I hesitate to say that all people experienced physical maltreatment, since one informant who went through the RPF at the Fort Harrison Hotel said that the daily schedule "was not bothersome" and that he "got enough sleep" (Kent Interview with Ernesto, 1997: 16, 17). He admitted, however, that he was not assigned the heavy physical work, but only cleaned and emptied garbage (Kent Interview with Ernesto, 1997: 16). Similarly, Scientologist "SB" wrote, "[b]eing on the RPF wasn't terribly difficult for me. I was in good shape physically and actually enjoyed the chance to do some laborious work...." (SB, 1998a: 2). Later, however, he responded to a message by conceding, "I won't lie, the RPF is damned tough business and you are almost certainly right that some former (and current) RPFers feel very abused and terrorized" (SB, 1998f: 2). Indeed others experienced a wide range of (what they considered to be) physical abuses.
A. Excessive Exercise--The Running Program
Forced running was a universal aspect in the RPF, but leaders also used it as a specific punishment. According to a person who was on the Apollo, Hubbard devised the "running program" as a punishment against a member whom he thought "needed some discipline." He ordered the member "to do fifty laps around the prom[enade] deck. [The member] did about twenty and declared [that] he had done fifty. I remember distinctly, and he got away with it" (Kent Interview with Ernesto, 1997: 5). With the advent of the RPF, running quickly became a standard punishment.
The location of the running punishment, of course, varied according to the location of the RPF program. Monica Pignotti, who was in the RPF on the Apollo, wrote a particularly clear description of the running punishment that she experienced in the early months of 1975:
We had to scrub down the entire bathroom, including all the bulkheads (walls) and ceilings. After we cleaned an area, it had to pass a white glove inspection. If the glove came up dirty, the person who cleaned the area had to run laps from bow to stern of the ship (about 1/5 of a mile each). One time, when my senior wasn't satisfied with the way I cleaned a bathroom, she ordered me to 'take a lap.' I protested because I thought she was being unfair and her reply was, 'Don't Q&A with me. Take two laps.' I objected again and she said, 'Take four laps.' This went on until I was up to about 10 laps, which I eventually had to do (Pignotti, 1989: 23).
Using the "technical" language of Scientology, Pignotti had been put on "rocks and shoals"--penalties for Sea Org members (Hubbard, 1976b: 449).
From her Fort Harrison RPF experience, Anne Rosenblum indicated that the "rocks and shoals" punishments often included sit-ups and push-ups in addition to running laps "up and down the garage ramp" (Rosenblum, n. d.: 2). Dennis Erlich also reported "having to run up and down the parking structure..." (Kent Interview with Erlich, 1997: 16). In the Cedars complex in Los Angeles, rocks and shoals involved "running the stairwells" or taking "laps around the entire complex" (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997: 27). The most difficult running punishments apparently took place at either the Gilman Hot Springs or Happy Valley RPF programs, where formerly high ranking Sea Org members had to run around either a tree or a pole for twelve hours a day. Julie Mayo indicated that she "was put on a running program for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and made to run around a tree in all types of extreme desert conditions" (J. Mayo, 1996: 7). Her husband, David, reported that he "was forced to run around a tree in the desert in temperatures of up to 110 degrees for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 3 months..." (D. Mayo, 1994: 3). Vicki Aznaran made a similar claim about having "to run around an orange telephone pole from 7:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. in the evening, with 10 minute rests every one-half hour, and 30 minute breaks for lunch and dinner" (Aznaran and Aznaran, 1988: 9). The age of RPFers apparently had no bearing on their obligation to run, since Scientologist "SB" mentioned that "[t]he RPF 'shuffle' was coined as many older RPFers couldn't possibly run that much, but at least had to give the illusion [that] they were [running]" (SB, 1998b: 1).
B. Physically Demanding and Tiring Chores
Labour was a central aspect to RPF programs, usually involving maintenance and renovation. On the Apollo, RPF inmates performed a number of cleaning jobs--scraping and painting; scrubbing decks; etc. (Kent Interview with Dale, 1997: 6). While on the RPF's RPF, Monica Pignotti was made "to go down and clean muck from the bilges. That was my job all day long.... [A]nd I had to clean all this sludge out and then paint -- paint it.... I was on it for five days..." (Kent Interview with Pignotti, 1997: 26). Another dirty (as well as dangerous) cleaning job that befell a person on the RPF's RPF was "routine cleaning of 'Rat's Alley'[,] which is probably the grossest thing you can possibly imagine and I mean that literally. I've seen adult people faint from the smell" (SB, 1998b: 1). "Rat's Alley" earned it nickname because (according to Scientologist "SB") it was a dimly lit, narrow tunnel beneath a food preparation area containing drainage pipes and a maze of other pipes, some of which were extremely hot. When Scientologists acquired the building it had been rat-infested, but now food particles and standing puddles of water kept the area infested with cockroaches. RPF's RPF inmates who cleaned the area had to roll around on carts because space was so tight, but even then "it was so low in some places, that it wasn't uncommon to get yourself stuck between your cart and a hot water pipe. Believe me, I have 2 scars on my back from that!" (SB, 1998h: 2). Apparently the smell was so bad in "Rat's Alley" that Scientologist "SB" (who was ill at the time):
actually had a small 'blackout' for about 2 minutes and slumped on my cart. My twin (i.e., partner] saw me and shook me awake and I had quite a few roaches on me. My twin [who was 16 or 17 years old at the time] also got a few in his hair once while rolling through some higher water and his head was a little low and it rolled through the goop and picked up some roaches (SB, 1998h: 2).
In a subsequent newsgroup posting on alt.religion.scientology, "SB" surmised that the "standing water was so foul, it is barely comprehensible" (SB, 1998i: 2). Despite these foul conditions, "SB" indicated that he once he was cleaning in "Rat's Alley" for five hours (SB, 1998h: 3).
While an account from the RPF in East Grinstead spoke about "chipping the crust off cooker parts or painting stones" (Forde, n. d.: 3), activities such as garbage disposal (Royal Courts of Justice, 1984: 27), and cleaning bathrooms (Pignotti, 1989: 23; Rosenblum, n. d.: 1), hallways (Rosenblum, n. d.: 1) and stairways (Nefertiti, 1997: 10) was much more common. Vicki Aznaran reportedly dug ditches (Aznaran and Aznaran, 1988: 11), and Pignotti was part of an RPF team that did photo shoots for pictures that appeared in the 1978 publication, What is Scientology? (see Church of Scientology of California, 1978). Gerry Armstrong assembled course packs (Superior Court of the State of California, 1984: 1462), but he also performed another common RPF assignment--building renovation.
In the period around April, 1979, Armstrong worked on a team that was renovating a house that was to be the dwelling of L. Ron Hubbard (Superior Court of the State of California, 1984: 1475). Andre Tabayoyon (1994: 24 [section # 116-117, 120-122]) spoke about RPF "slave labor" (as he called it) building and renovating numerous dwellings and buildings used by Scientology leaders and their movie star friends. Sea Org members in the Danish RPF performed renovations on Scientology's buildings in Copenhagen, which we know from commendations that RPF teams received for their accomplishments. One commendation (from November 23, 1989) praised the RPF members by stating, "[t]he ceiling, walls[,] woodwork[,] and carpet is [sic] done to a good standard" (presumably of the Nordland Estates Hotel [TCO Estates, 1989]), while another (from September 21, 1990) acknowledged the RPFers' good paint job of the boiler rooms and pipes in the building in which the staff slept (Criverllaro, 1990). RPF member Susanne Schernekau/Elleby even complained about the messy jobs that the Estates Project Force (RPF) workers left behind on renovations, which the RPF had to complete (Schernekau/Elleby, 1990b).
The most dramatic renovation accounts came from Pat, whose RPF team (she stated) was involved in major building renovations in southern California in the 1970s:
the pressure kept mounting every day with the renovations. Every day that passed there was greater pressure to get renovations done... until it got to the point that we were -- and I swear to God this is true -- we worked thirty hours on, three hours off. We worked shifts of thirty hours at a time.
....(Kent Interview with Pat, 1997a: 25).
[W]e would work so many hours, Steve, that I, I remember [that] I would pass people and I--and we'd be in a dark room with a screw gun laying drywall in a completely dark room and I would pass and I would stop because I saw sparks flying off this thing and I'd go, 'hey, what's going on?,' and the person would just look at me with this dazed look saying, 'Oh, I, I don't know. I'm just looking at the sparks.' I mean, we were delusional we were so tired. I remember trying to construct a sentence and being unable to do so. You know, saying--knowing that I had to say, 'I need that screw driver,' and saying, 'I need that fence for the sandwich that isn't purple.' [...] I was unable to be at all coherent (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997: 25, 26).
Prince indicated that he was on that work schedule for eight months, "and people were literally dropping like flies from exhaustion" (Kent interview with Prince, 1998: 16). Pat's and Jesse Prince's thirty hour work shifts were unusual -- Robert Vaughn Young spoke about twelve hour work days (Kent Interview with Young, 1994: 18)--but Monica Pignotti reported that once she had to work "for thirty-six hours straight with no sleep" because Hubbard had ordered the whole ship to be cleaned (Kent Interview with Pignotti, 1997: 14).
C. Poor Diet
The heavy workload should have warranted a high calorie diet, but several of the former RPF inmates complained about the quality of the food. Despite what Tonya Burden identified as an 18 hour workday, she indicated that often she "received only 'rice and beans' and water" for her meals (Burden, 1980: 10). Apparently Nefertiti ate what she called "soups or pigswills," only occasionally flavoured with milk (Nefertiti, 1997: 9). Pat complained that "we were fed really dreadful food," which she went on to clarify as "very institutional, very poorly prepared," and which included "scraps and what was left over" (Kent Interview with Patti, 1997a: 24). Pignotti reported the common refrain that her RPF cohort ate after the rest of the staff was finished, but the leftovers that they ate came from the kitchen and not items found on people's plates (Kent Interview with Pignotti, 1997: 14; see Kent Interview with Dale, 1997: 6). Margery Wakefield, however, who was on the RPF ship that was docked in Long Beach, California, indicated, ["sometimes we had to eat food that other people had left on their plates" (Wakefield, 1990: 2). Poor diet may have been a contributing factor to Larry Wollersheim loss of fifteen pounds during his six weeks on the RPF aboard a ship (California Court of Appeal, 1989: 9269). Likewise, Scientology's alleged experimentation with a protein diet mixture, combined with the hard labour, may explain why Jesse Prince reported that he dropped 40 pounds during his first RPF experiences (Kent Interview with Prince, 1998: 19-20). Among the accounts of former RPFers, only Scientologist "SB" reported, "[a]ctually, we ate half decently. The truth is, we sometimes got special favors from the galley crew because they knew we were the ones [who] cleaned the place and we helped them" (SB, 1998i: 1).
D. Issues of Hygiene and Medical Care
Worn down by a rigourous work schedule, and possibly weakened further by marginal diets, RPF members were especially susceptible to illness. On the Apollo, RPF members apparently had trouble keeping their clothes dry (Kent Interview with Dale, 1997:6). On land, many RPF victims probably had a similar problem, but now the dampness was the result of perspiration from wearing work clothes in hot climates. Hana Whitfield, for example, complained about having to wear heavy jumpsuits or boilersuits in the hot Florida weather (Whitfield, 1989: 5-6). Despite the obvious need for baths or showers, Whitfield revealed that "[w]e were not allowed to shower longer than 30 seconds" (Whitfield, 1989: 6). While in the RPF, Nefertiti saw firsthand the problems that excessive sweating could cause women, and she included a pertinent story in her recollection of her forcible confinement experience:
We all suffered from heavy sweating. I recall this young woman suffering from an important [sic] infection which had been developing under her breasts. Instead of healing, the wound had been expanding to such a degree that purulent blisters had reached her navel (Nefertiti, 1997: 9).
Nefertiti was not the only former member to report having seen a woman on the RPF with a severe skin problem -- former member Lori Taverna told city officials in Clearwater, Florida that she "saw a few people who looked very sick[, including o]ne [who] had sores all over her body, open sores" (City of Clearwater Commission Hearings, 1982: 2-151). Remarkably, RPFers in the Cedars Sinai complex in the late 1970s were forced to perspire, because (according to Jesse Prince), "we were required for one hour a day to put on rubber suits, rubber sweat suits and run for an hour straight, and sweat in these damn suits." (Apparently this requirement was a precursor to Scientology's Purification Rundown, which uses saunas as part of a program claiming to rid the body of chemical and radiation residues [Kent Interview with Prince, 1998: 20].) Another medical and hygienic problem that women faced was "not having enough cash to buy a box of Tampax [tampons]" (Nefertiti, 1997: 11).
Health consequences for people were many, varied and sometimes life-threatening. David Mayo, for example, claimed that "I was refused medical and dental treatment" while on the RPF, and "after escaping captivity I lost six teeth and required thousands of dollars of dental work to save the rest of my teeth" (Mayo, 1994: 3). Most seriously, Andre Tabayoyon recalled working on "dangerous machinery" while on the RPF's RPF and seeing a distressed co-worker "thrust his finger into the machine which cut his finger off" (Tabayoyon, 1994: 10). Recalling some of the consequences of the thirty-hour work shifts in the Cedars Sinai renovation project, Jesse Prince indicated that "some people went what they call psychotic -- just kind of lost their minds -- no longer could associate who and what the were, where they were, [or] what they were doing, and had to be put in isolation, because they were crazy" (Kent Interview with Prince, 1998: 16). Apparently one exhausted man who was working with power tools close to Prince, walked over to him "and part of his finger was gone, and he said, "'look what just happened'" (Kent Interview with Prince, 1998: 17).