Scientology Defector Reportedly Jailed in L.A.

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Hannah Mason/Corbis

And not because his thetans were too low!

NewsFeed generally believes that all religions are valid and that we should treat all of them with respect and all that liberal-arts jazz. But this story gives us the creeps.

The latest scandal from the Church of Scientology is the tale of 19-year-old Daniel Montalvo, who allegedly ran from the Church and found himself in jail for his efforts.

The news originated from the blog of Scientology apostate Marty Rathbun and is written in near-impenetrable Scientology jargon, but Tony Ortega of the Village Voice has recapped the situation in normal English. In brief: Montalvo, a lifetime Scientologist, left the Church after coming into contact with ex-members on the Internet. As Rathbun describes:

The kid only had a hand held text message sender and receiver, no phone. We coordinated his route out, lost all our tails, and picked him up at a pre-designated spot.

We took him to a far away Deli and delighted at watching him eat a cheeseburger and fries with his eyes lit up like he was ingesting an eight course gourmet feast…

Montalvo had reportedly taken with him two hard drives belonging to the organization, but, on the advice of Rathbun, returned them to the Church by messenger service. The ex-Scientologist community then spirited Montalvo away to Florida, where he was to live in a safe house for those who have left the Church.

What happened next bears a remarkable similarity to the Elian Gonzalez case. Montalvo’s family allegedly pressured the group to let them speak to Daniel, and eventually they were allowed to. But while he was reportedly on the phone, he was put through to a Scientology fixer, who, as Rathbun explains…

…procceeded to lie to Daniel that the hard drives were never returned, and made a convincing case (not difficult to do with a 19 year old who doesn’t even know the three branches of government) that Daniel would be put behind iron bars for a good long time, unless of course, he returned and cooperated.

But when Montalvo returned, the story goes, he was taken to an office, interrogated by a Scientologist lawyer for two hours, and then reportedly arrested by a detective from the L.A. Sheriff’s department, for the theft of the hard drives. The teenager spent 70 hours in jail before being bailed out by another former Scientologist. Rathbun on his blog has called for donations to help Montalvo’s legal defense.

Whatever the outcome of the Montalvo case, everyone involved can at least be assured of one thing: Tabloid writers around the globe will be monitoring each and ever twist and turn. We can see it now: The case of the Renegade Scientologist.