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Tennessee Fugitives Caught; Scientology vs. Psychiatry; Scientology Explored; Bush Answers Critics on Iraq

Aired August 11, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening, everyone. The fugitive couple behind bars, and my exclusive interview with the cab driver who helped put them there. It's 7:00 p.m. on the East Coast, 4:00 p.m. in the West. 360 starts now.

COOPER (voice-over): Bonnie and Clyde behind bars, but how did they get so far so fast? Tonight, a 360 exclusive: The cabby who helped them, and then called the cops, tells what really happened in those final hours.

A grieving mother of a dead U.S. soldier camps out in Crawford, Texas. Today, the president says he sympathizes. Tonight, hear for yourself what she thinks of that.

Tom Cruise condemns psychiatry. Scientologists say it's a scam. But why? Tonight, a Scientologist speaks. What does the secretive religion really have against modern-day psychiatry?

And a rare peek inside the Church of Scientology. Tonight, two former members speak out, what they think is going on with Tom Cruise, and what they say happens in the highest levels of the church.

ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.


COOPER: Good evening again. We begin tonight with a developing story, with Bonnie and Clyde, as they're being called, behind bars. Tomorrow, the convicted con and his gun-toting wife appear in federal court. Those are some new pictures we've just gotten in on them. We also have some security camera footage of them checking into the hotel with the cab driver who booked them in under his own name. We'll show you that in a moment.

These two are accused of killing a guard while breaking out of jail. Later tonight, a 360 exclusive, we're actually going to talk with the man, the cabby, who spent their final hours with them on the run, the cabby who ended up calling the cops.

But first, let's get the latest from Chris Lawrence in Columbus, Ohio, where the couple got caught -- Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this motel at one point was completely surrounded by SWAT team and U.S. Marshals. George and Jennifer Hyatte were staying in a room right up there on the second floor. Last night, they walked out on the balcony, get on their knees, and just gave up. Tonight, for the first time, we can begin to show you how this fugitive couple managed to cross two state lines and check into a hotel.

Take a look at this surveillance video from the motel that we're standing in front of right now. You can see a yellow cab pull up. That is a taxi that the couple hired in Kentucky. He drove them more than 100 miles here to Columbus, and then went one step further. He walks in with Jennifer Hyatte, and checks her in, because she said she lost her I.D. and couldn't get a room without it.

Now, the front desk clerk had no idea who they were. He hadn't watched the news, and even if he did, the reports were all about an interracial couple. George Hyatte never got out of the cab, and Jennifer had cut her hair.

Now, there's nothing exciting about this tape, and that's what's so interesting. You're looking at a woman who police suspect shot a prison guard and killed him, busted her husband out of custody, and then was shot herself as the two escaped.

In that video, she is very calm. And although you can see her limping at some point, possibly because of that wound, she never seems upset. She even chit-chats a little bit with the cabby and the front desk clerk as they chit-chat there at the front desk.

Now, tonight, both her, Jennifer Hyatte and her husband, George, are both in custody. They're in a local jail here in Columbus. They'll both be in court tomorrow on the matter of extradition back to Tennessee.

Now, normally, most people waive their right and just go straight into custody, but we spoke tonight with Jennifer Hyatte's attorney, and he says, because the charges against her are so serious, he will recommend to her that she not waive that right. Although he does admit he hasn't talked to her yet, so she could still have an input on that -- Anderson.

COOPER: Chris Lawrence, thanks from Columbus.

It's not surprising that George Hyatte would want to escape. I mean, he's done it twice before, and was facing a 35-year sentence. But what about his new wife, Jennifer? She's a former nurse, and went from being a Utah mom to a Tennessee murder suspect in a very short amount of time, a very short time, but a long, strange journey. We asked CNN's Adaora Udoji to trace the trail Jennifer left behind.


ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the question about Jennifer Hyatte -- how in the world did she go from a mother and nurse in Utah to the center of a murderous jailbreak in Tennessee? ELI GOURDIN, JENNIFER'S EX-HUSBAND: Obviously, something has happened to where she's changed, because she's not the person -- that's not the person that I was married to.

UDOJI: That's Eli Gourdin, Hyatte's ex-husband, the father of her three children, and a long, long way from where she is now.

GOURDIN: She's a loving mother, she was a loving wife. She did -- she did everything for me.

UDOJI: Gourdin was her high school sweetheart. They married out of school and had two boys and a girl; the oldest now 12. Five years ago, their marriage was crumbling, and they divorced.

Hyatte moved on to nursing in this school in Tennessee with her kids. She graduated last year, passed the state boards and earned a nursing license.

What came next is the strange turn that led to where she is today. A nursing agency sent her to work at a prison, the Northwest Correctional Complex, where she met and would eventually fall for George Hyatte, a violent and habitual criminal.

GOURDIN: I really think it's his influence.

UDOJI: In fact, she smuggled food into Hyatte and was caught, and then fired last November.

Then in May, just three months ago, they tied the knot in a prison visitor's room.

(on camera): Another strange twist, officials in Tennessee now say it appears Jennifer was still married to her second husband, a truck driver, the day she married the convict. It turns out the divorce did not come through until several days later. And that takes us to the next question, how could the couple plan the escape?

(voice-over): Remember, prison officials thought the couple was married. But because of the food incident, denied them visiting rights. Officially, they could only write letters, or talk to the phone, all of it monitored.

But one of Jennifer's neighbors says somehow the two spent marathon sessions on cell phones every night, and like all prisoners, Hyatte was prohibited from having a cell phone.

Is that how they conceived the plan?

MICHAEL WINGERT, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR, U.S. MARSHALL: This would be what I think what they would consider to be out of character. I mean, she has no criminal history, no prior indication that she was capable of an act such as this, you know, if, in fact, she committed it.

UDOJI: So that is the question, how in the world did Jennifer Hyatte get to center stage in the bloody breakout? (END VIDEOTAPE)

UDOJI: And trying to answer that question, Anderson, officials in Tennessee are going to be taking a long, good, hard look at those letters between Jennifer Hyatte and her husband. And also, listening again to some of those phone calls that went on between the two of them, trying to find some answers.

COOPER: Such a bizarre story, Adaora, thanks.

Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joins us with a look at some of the other stories in the world in 360 tonight. Erica, good evening.

ERICA HILL, CNN HEADLINE NEWS: Hey, Anderson, good to see you.

With a Monday deadline looming for an Iraqi draft constitution, politicians there are debating the fine print. Today, outside his Texas ranch, President Bush told reporters he believes the timeline will be met, but says there are some difficult issues still to be ironed out, such as the role of religion.

Meantime in Vienna, Austria, the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors is expressing serious concerns about Iran's nuclear activities. It has approved a resolution, asking Iran to stop its uranium conversion, which was resumed earlier this week at the plant you see there.

At London's Heathrow Airport, British Airways canceling all of its outbound flights and diverts others, all due to a labor dispute. Baggage handlers and other workers actually walked off the job in sympathy with about 800 fired catering staff. The union representing Gate Gourmet, which provides on-board meals, says the workers were fired after staging an unofficial strike.

If you have travel plans on British Airways, make sure you call ahead. All London departures are canceled through at least 6:00 p.m. local time on Friday. That's 1:00 p.m. Eastern time here in the States. So good luck with that.

And in Fortaleza, Brazil, remember this mega bank heist we told you about earlier this week? You know, the thieves dug a tunnel from a house into a bank vault? They stole, eh, a cool 68 mil. Wow, police say some of the cash apparently spent on wheels. Last night, they stopped a truck loaded with new cars -- in one of them, about $425,000. Police detained the driver and owner of the truck. No word on whether they're linked to the robbery.

I mean, at first I heard it, I thought that was kind of stupid, but then you think, are they going to check the car for the cash? Maybe not. It's worth a shot.

COOPER: Worth a shot. Erica Hill, thanks. See you again in about 30 minutes.

Ahead on 360, the cabby who turned in the Tennessee fugitive. They told him they were heading to an Amway convention. He didn't buy it, but why did he book the couple's motel room in his name? We're going to find out why.

Also ahead tonight, inside the Church of Scientology, the faith Tom Cruise follows. Why do they oppose psychiatry? And what really goes on inside the church? Current member and two former members speak out tonight.

And a little later, mother on a mission. Cindy Sheehan is demanding to talk to the president. Her son was killed in Iraq. She wants to ask why he died and what will it take for the U.S. to pull out. We'll talk to her ahead.



BUSH: Listen, I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her position. And I -- she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has a right to her position. And I've thought long and hard about her position. I've heard her position from others, which is, get out of Iraq now. And it would be a -- it would be a mistake for the security of this country.


COOPER: Well, that was President Bush earlier today talking about Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. Now, she's been camped for days near the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, demanding to ask him in person why her son died. It's a personal story that's become very political as well.

We're going to talk to Cindy Sheehan in a moment. But first, the man behind her mission, her son, Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, killed in Iraq. Here's CNN's Rusty Dornin.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Casey's family saw these images in April of 2004, their hearts sank.

CINDY SHEEHAN, MOTHER: I saw the news report about the ambush, I knew, I knew my son was one of them. I just knew it in my heart.

DORNIN: It was, 24-year-old Army Specialist Casey Sheehan was one of eight U.S. troops killed in that ambush. Sheehan spent most of his teen years in Vacaville, California, about 50 miles northeast of San Francisco.

A quiet boy, friends say he came alive on stage in the drama club at Vacaville High School. An alter boy at St. Mary's Catholic Church, he also taught Bible classes and was an Eagle Scout.

Bob Balmer, a scouting mentor, remembers him planting more than 1,000 trees for a project.

BOB BALMER, FORMER SCOUT LEADER: He just took charge. He was a great leader. He taught them a lot about the outdoors.

DORNIN: That love of the outdoors sent Sheehan to Camp Pendolla, a Catholic retreat first as a camper, then a counselor. Director Stephen Tholke remember a young man always anxious to lend a hand.

STEPHEN THOLKE, CAMP DIRECTOR: Casey would be on the service team, which meant long hours, never out in front, but the ones who would set the stage, break down the stage.

DORNIN (on camera): It doesn't sound like he went into the military for combat, certainly. What would he have gotten out of military service?

THOLKE: He had gotten an opportunity to serve people. Casey was about serving people. And so as a humvee mechanic, or as a mechanic, he would be able to work on things to help other people.

DORNIN (voice-over): He joined the army at age 21 with hopes of becoming an officer. He also wanted to finish college and become a teacher. He re-enlisted three years later and was sent to Iraq. Two weeks later, he was dead.

Back up at Camp Pendolla, volunteers are creating the Casey Sheehan Memorial Grove.

Did Casey Sheehan believe the war to be a noble cause? No one we spoke to seemed to know. His family and friends say he was a gentle person who loved peace, but one dedicated to helping others, and to the job at hand.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Vacaville, California.


COOPER: Well Casey's mother, Cindy Sheehan, wants to ask the president why her son died. She joined me earlier from Crawford, Texas.


COOPER: You did have the opportunity to meet with President Bush back in June of 2004. From your perspective, how did that meeting go?

SHEEHAN: Well, it didn't going really well, but it was a different kind of meeting. I had buried Casey about nine weeks before. I was still in a deep state of shock and a deep state of grief. I'm still in a deep state of grief, but my shock has worn off. And so many proofs and evidences have come out that this war was based on lies and deceptions. And my son should still be alive. And over 1800 brave Americans should still be alive. And tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis should be alive.

COOPER: You've entered the realm of politics, and therefore, as I'm sure as you knew when you entered this realm, that you were going to come under some criticism from people of different political factions. Some people have criticized you for changing your account of that original meeting you had with President Bush. Back then a local newspaper quoted you as saying, "I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith. That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness of being together."

After the meeting with Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagen in Texas this past weekend, you said something apparently different. You said, quote, "Joe Hagan, the deputy chief of staff said that, quote, I can tell you the president really cares. And I said, you can't tell me that because I've met with him and I know that he doesn't care."

Are those different versions?

SHEEHAN: Actually, that wasn't the first time I've said that. I've been speaking about my meeting with the president since August of 2004, after the Republican National Convention. Because one of the reasons I didn't speak strongly about it afterwards was, No. 1, I was still trying to live my day, my daily life without my son. And No. 2, at the end of our meeting, I asked George Bush, I said, why are we here? We didn't vote for you in 2000. We're not going to vote for you in 2004. And we've been life-long Democrats, why did we get invited? And he said, mom, it's not about politics.

And then he talked about it at the RNC, and he talked about it all through the campaigns, that he meets with the families, and the families say, I'm praying for you, and the families say to not let their loved ones die in vain. And that's wrong. That's not what happens at those meetings.

COOPER: Do you think the president feels some pain for your loss?

SHEEHAN: I don't think so. If he does, what am I doing standing out here?

COOPER: You think he doesn't feel any pain for it at all?

SHEEHAN: I don't know. Why -- I don't know, I can't speak for him, but I think he should come out and speak for himself.

COOPER: Do you wish you were more vocal with the president you first time you met with him?

SHEEHAN: No. Because we decided we weren't going to use that forum at that time, because we wanted him to see Casey's pictures. We wanted him to hear about Casey. We wanted him to know what an indispensable part of the Sheehan family that he took from us.

But he wouldn't look at Casey's pictures. He wouldn't let us tell him about Casey. Every time we tried to, he changed the subject. He didn't know our names. He wouldn't say our names. He called me mom. He called Casey "the loved one" the whole time. He wanted to de-personalize it as much as possible.

COOPER: There are other families who have lost loved ones who have said that they believe you are using your son's death. SHEEHAN: I'm using my son's death to bring the troops home. I don't want any other mother to go through what I'm going through Iraqi or American.


COOPER: Casey Sheehan.

The White House issued this statement to 360 regarding Cindy Sheehan. "We don't think anyone can imagine how painful and difficult it is to lose a child. Each one died for a noble cause."

"The president says he feels compassion for me, but the best way to show that compassion," this is a statement from Cindy Sheehan, she made it earlier today, "compassion is by meeting with me and the other mothers and families who are here." Sheehan said, "all we're asking is that he sacrifice an hour out of his five week vacation to talk to us before the next mother loses her son in Iraq." That was the statement she made today.

Ahead on 360, Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology keep getting e-mails from viewers wanting to know more about why they oppose psychiatry, and what happens inside the church. Tonight, current and former members speak out.

Plus, a 360 exclusive, we're going to talk to the cabbie who called the cops on the fugitives. We just got some surveillance video of them checking into a hotel where they were finally caught. All of that ahead.

Also, the search for Natalee Holloway, sadly, really, nothing new on the case. But that is not stopping cable news anchors from talking endlessly about it. It is media madness and we'll show you what we mean ahead.


COOPER: Well, in Aruba, not much happened in the 11th week of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, but you'd never know that if you listen to just about every other cable news channel.

We did a number of stories after the American teen went missing and her family's anguish is and hard to imagine and we understand why they want the story to remain in the news, but we've been kind of stunned, because every night, our cable competitors devote hours and hours to this story, even though, sadly, nothing new is happening. We decided to start tracking their coverage, because to be honest, it's getting downright ridiculous. Here's what the other guys were reporting just last night...


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Not much new in the Natalee Holloway mystery.

RITA COSBY, MSNBC HOST: The big mystery, of course, is taking place on the island of Aruba.

DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC HOST: Let's go to Aruba. It's getting ugly. Natalee Holloway's mother is fighting back.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Meanwhile, a new battle is brewing between Natalee's mom and a key suspect. We brought you that story last night.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, Natalee Holloway's mother just received a tip in the search for her daughter.

Does this tip tend to corroborate existing theories or is this a new theory that's separate and apart from the three who have been suspects thus far?

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY: Right now, I really don't want to comment on the nature of it, right now.

SCARBOROUGH: You're not going to believe it, courthouse filings today and Joran's lawyer's claiming that the Dutch boy's human rights were being violated. Are you kidding me?

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of this tip, one-to-10 scale, 10 being the most helpful, how do you possibly rate this tip?

TWITTY: There's no way I can, Greta. There's no way I can.

O'REILLY: It's a phenomenon. It's a phenomenon.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are people responding or does it sort of seem unrelated to the tips coming in?

TWITTY: You know, I don't know, Greta.

O'REILLY: ... 2 1/2 months, I've never seen in my 30-year career, a crime story covered this way, ever. It's a mystery. It's a soap opera. It's a reality show and each night, people come in for the latest. I thought it would dissipate. I thought it would go away. It has not.


COOPER: It truly has not. The only thing we can honestly report to you tonight is that a young woman is still missing. A family is still in anguish. Until something else happens, until there really are developments, we'll leave the rest to the other guys.

Bonnie and Clyde behind bars, but how did they get so far, so fast? Tonight a 360 exclusive, the cabby who helped them and then called the cops, tells what really happened in those final hours.

And a rare peek inside the church of Scientology. Tonight, two former members speak out. What they think is going on with Tom Cruise and what they say happens in the highest levels of the church.

360 continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, cabdriver Mike Wagers says he didn't get any sleep last night, there was simply too much excitement going on, ever since he delivered the tip that led to arrests of two wanted fugitives from Tennessee.

In just a couple moments we're going to talk to the cab driver in a 360 exclusive. We're going to talk about those final two hours on the road and find out why he checked them into a hotel under his own name.

We've just gotten in the surveillance video from the hotel. That's outside. You can also see inside where the cabby is helping the woman, Jennifer, check in.

First, here's a look at how it all went down.


COOPER (voice-over): Erlanger, Kentucky, 10:30 Wednesday morning: George and Jennifer Hyatte hail a cab, their destination, 115 miles away, Columbus, Ohio. We still don't know why. Cab driver, Mike Wagers...

MIKE WAGERS, CABDRIVER: We pretty much drove straight through the whole way. No stops.

QUESTION: Did they chit-chat any at all? Anything...

WAGERS: We chit-chated about a lot of things and none of it was really important.

COOPER: About two hours later, he dropped them off here. Remember, Wagers had no idea whom he was driving, so when they said they had I.D. problems and asked him to go with Jennifer to the front desk -- you can see them there -- while George remained in the car, he wasn't suspicious. After that, Wagers drove back home to Kentucky. By then, the manhunt was massive.

MARK GWYN, TENN. BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: We think, based on our intelligence, that they're still the gold Chevy Ventura. We have no reason right now to belief that they have swapped vehicles. So, that's the -- still the vehicle we're looking for.

COOPER: A few hours later, authorities got tipped that gold van, the one used in the getaway, was spotted at a motel back in Erlanger, Kentucky, but of course, they were too late.

GWYN: Entry was made approximately 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Unfortunately, George or Jennifer Hyatte were not inside any of the rooms of the hotel. We believe the couple had been there.

COOPER: By then, Wagers was back, about eight miles away from where police were searching, when he got a phone call. WAGERS: I was at home, playing video games, when a friend of mine, Rob, called me and said, hey, they found that van next to where you picked them people up from them escaped people in Tennessee. You need to call the police. And I immediately dropped the video game and called the police.

This evening around, I guess, around 8:00 or so, started getting some information that the suspects were in Ohio area.

COOPER: That led straight back to room 236-B at the motel in Columbus, Ohio. The room Wagers helped the fugitives book. The police outside called the room.

JOHN BOLEN, U.S. MARSHAL SERVICE: Jennifer answered the phone. And we gave them the opportunity to end this thing peacefully. The deputy telling Jennifer, you're surrounded, your attempts to escape have come to an end. There's nowhere to go. And we want this to go peacefully. This is an opportunity for you to come out and do the right thing.

There was no response. We asked her not to hang the phone up. But to just lay it down and to walk to the door and open the door. And that's precisely what she did.

COOPER: The police moved in. And by 10:00 p.m. Wednesday night, nearly 12 hours after Mike Wagers unwittingly picked up the fugitives, it was all over.

GWYN: We are very pleased to announce tonight that George and Jennifer Hyatte have been apprehended in Columbus, Ohio. They were at a Best Value Inn there in Columbus. Agents with the U.S. Marshal Service, the FBI, and the local Columbia police apprehended George and Jennifer Hyatte without incident.


COOPER: Well, joining me from his home in Tailor Mills, Kentucky, eight miles from the city where he picked up the fugitives, is cab driver Mike Wagers. Mike, good to have you on the program.

So, you pick up these two, was there anything unusual about them? Did they seem anxious or agitated?

WAGERS: No, sir. They just -- they were ready to go when I showed up. And we loaded up and left. I got gas immediately. And we hit the road.

COOPER: We have these two new mug shots which we're showing right now of them, of George and Jennifer. They look dramatically different to the black hair she has. You say she also had something wrong with her side. What was it?

WAGERS: Yes, sir. I don't know what was wrong with her at the time. But when all of it was said and done in Columbus, and they were getting out of the cab to go to their hotel room, she was favoring one side as if there was something wrong. And when I asked her about it, you know, there was an immediate response, with it happened in a car wreck the day prior, which jibed with what we had going in the area. So I didn't think anything of it.

COOPER: And they wanted you to go about 115 miles to Columbus, Ohio. What exactly did they tell you? They said something about an Amway convention?

WAGERS: Yes, sir. When -- I'm kind of chit-chatting with my customers. and I just, you know, real casually asked them, you know, what they were traveling for, why would they be on the cab instead of, you know, on their own or with a rental car. And the accident was mentioned, and that they were involved in Amway.

COOPER: Did you buy that?

WAGERS: Not really. From prior experiences, it didn't seem right. But nothing else really alerted my suspicions, so I didn't get concerned.

COOPER: They didn't look like your typical Amway customers, I guess?

WAGERS: Not so much that, but usually the folks in that type of business are usually very persistent about their product. They believe wholeheartedly in it.

COOPER: Oh, so they weren't trying to sell you any Amway products.

WAGERS: No. Sorry.

COOPER: No, no. Let me ask you. You get to Columbus, you get into the motel with her. We have got the surveillance video now. You helped her check in. You let her use your name to check in. Why did you do that?

WAGERS: As we were arriving at the hotel, there was a story about a license being lost, and I.D.s being misplaced because of the car wreck from the day before, would I mind doing this? And at the time, I was just pretty much, you know, sure, why not, you know. I really hadn't had any reason to believe otherwise, that they were up to no good. I was just trying to be helpful and get back home.

COOPER: You're a nice guy. They told you they lost their licenses in the accident. You go home later that night, you drive all the way back to Kentucky. And then you're playing video games, I understand. A friend calls you and tells you to turn on the news. What did you think when you suddenly saw their picture?

WAGERS: Well, at first I didn't react right away. But, I mean, they were pretty sure -- my friend, Rob Cotton called me, and he said, the folks that you picked up and took to Columbus, that they had found a van right around the corner from there. and I needed to call the police. And, you know, if I wasn't involved, at least verify that it wasn't me. But as I spoke with the police, everybody there got real interested. And it pretty much let me know almost instantly I'd been involved in something.

COOPER: And you told them the hotel where they were. And that's how it all ended. Mike Wagers, I'm glad you got out safe and sound. It could have gone much worse. I'm glad things ended the way you did. I hope you get some sleep tonight, Mike. Thanks.

WAGERS: All righty. Thank you, sir.

COOPER: Coming up next on 360, inside the Church of Scientology. What is it about the church that draws so many people to it? We're going to hear some former members talk, and also current members speak about the beliefs of the church.

We're also going to get all sides on 360, a representative from the church is going to speak to us and respond to some of the things that the former members say. We're not taking sides. We want to hear all the angles. We'll be right back.


COOPER: It's no secret that Tom Cruise is a devoted, outspoken member of the Church of Scientology. That has not always been the case. There was a time when the subject of his religion was off limits to reporters and to interviewers. Not so now. Just ask Matt Lauer who got lectured by Cruise weeks ago on what the actors says are the evils of psychiatry.

Now, while some are surprised by the chance in Cruise, former Scientologists insist it's really no mystery, they think it's related to his rise in the ranks of the church.

Kim Masters is a contributing writer for "Radar" magazine. She wrote a cover story this month, "The Passion of Tom Cruise." She joins me now from Los Angeles. Kim, thanks for being with us.

KIM MASTERS, RADAR: Thanks for having me.

COOPER: You know, a lot of viewers were surprised watching Tom Cruise on Oprah Winfrey, on the "Today Show," were surprised by his attitude, his condemnation of psychiatry. You talked with former Scientologists in your article. What was their explanation for his behavior?

MASTER: Their feeling is that as Tom Cruise has risen up through the level of Scientology, and he's now at the second highest level that's offered by the church, that he has reached a point where he is expected to carry the message of Scientology, and in fact, wants to carry the message of Scientology. So when he denounces psychiatry on a show like "The Today Show," that is the equivalent of doing the Lord's work.

COOPER: And their opposition to psychiatry is based on what? MASTERS: Well, you know, it's a historic thing. If you look at the writings of L. Ron Hubbard, as told to me by fallen away Scientologists, and I should say as you probably will later, that the church records any fallen away Scientologist as a very hostile adversary and said that many of the sources in our piece were liars, paid liars. But that L. Ron Hubbard said psychiatrist had been in the universe, psyche's has he called them, for a long, long time. And were the source of all the world's evil. And honestly, I don't think I'm enough of an expert in the church to know what the origin of that is.

COOPER: One message that former Scientologists who oppose the church now who are quoted in your article say is how insulated and disconnected celebrity members of the church are from the world. That one person said, you never hear bad news and you're placed in a bubble. I mean, how is that possible? These people are not trapped in isolation?

MASTERS: Well, I think they try -- they do something which is called, you know, trying to keep enthata (ph) off of their lines, which is Scientology speak for avoiding bad news. And as Tom's sister, Lee Anne, who is his publicist and a fellow Scientologist said, if you are on the Scientology staff, a member of what they called the C-org, you were not supposed to watch TV, you're not supposed to surf the web. You eat together, you live together. I think it's possible that -- I mean, all of these comments about Tom Cruise's behavior are dismissed by his sister as media fabrications and I think there's -- when -- if you want to, that you can certainly live that way.

COOPER: The Church of Scientology alleges that two people quoted in your article were paid $300,000. Were some of your sources paid by "Radar," for the story?

MASTERS: You know, honestly, I don't know what the -- what that means or what it's about. We spoke to quite a number of fallen-away Scientologists. They were on the record and as far as we were concerned, they were entitled to have their say.

COOPER: So you didn't pay anyone?

MASTERS: We certainly didn't pay anyone, no.

COOPER: Does "Radar" have $300,000.

MASTERS: Apparently, -- I think "Radar" has more than $300,00, but we didn't give it to any sources for this story.

COOPER: What surprised you most about what you learned in writing this article?

MASTERS: I guess I was surprised by the lifestyle of the staff. And I thought it was very interesting the way some of the former Scientologists, some of whom I think you're going to have on your show, could explain that what looks to the outside world like very irrational conduct and what most people, for example, would perceive as a -- a kind of an out-of-control performance on the "Today" show, in the Scientology mindset is actually a really great thing; a really wonderful thing.

His sister talked about how important it is, the work Tom is doing and how if you give your child some kind of psychiatric drug or Ritalin, you might as well give them cocaine. So, I think I was surprised by all of that.

COOPER: It's a fascinating article. It's in "Radar" this month. We're going to have a member of the Church of Scientology on at the end of the program to talk about the article. They're clearly not happy about it. Kim, we appreciate your perspective. Thanks.

MASTERS: Thank you.

COOPER: A big part of Scientology is church education and for some followers, that education begins at a pretty early age at a unique school where the students learn reading, writing, and religion. CNN's Ted Rowlands takes a look.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long before Scientologist Jessica Rodriguez showed up next to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, she was educated at the Delphian School, a private boarding school, based on the teaching of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

Delphia, a K-8 school with about 225 students, sits on 700 acres high above the rural town of Sheridan, Oregon. A former seminary, the property was purchased by Scientologists 30 years ago.

SCOTT POND, RESIDENT: In the beginning it was kind of weird: Who are they? What's this all about? But it's been around for a long time and you know, I don't know of any kind of problems or anything like that. So, they're just part of the town now.

ROWLANDS: It's part of the town that people say is still somewhat of a mystery. Through the years, celebrities like John Travolta and Lisa Marie Presley have been rumored to be in town with their children, but other than that, people here say they don't give the school much thought.

We tried to find out more about the school, but were told, there was nobody available to talk to us. We were then told to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Delphian School offers a brilliant alternative to today's public education.

ROWLANDS: According to a video that's part of the schools' Web site, Delphia uses L. Ron Hubbard's teaching techniques to master the art of learning with an emphasis on reading.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How students progress from the simplest ones, to books by Thomas Payne, De Tocqueville, Dickens and Plato.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delphia has taught me that you can teach a man to fish and he'll never hungry, but if you teach a man to learn, he can teach himself how to fish and anything else he wants to do.

ROWLANDS (on camera): According to their Web site, the school is focused on academics and not Scientology. Over the 30 years that the school has been here, it has produced some very impressive graduates.

(voice-over): Including high-tech entrepreneur Sky Dayton, who became a 20-something multi-millionaire after starting the company Earthlink. The Delphian Web site touts Dayton and other graduates and the extensive curriculum at the school. What's never mentioned is Scientology or how it fits in to what's taught here.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Sheridan, Oregon.


COOPER: Up next, much more on Scientology: Two former high- ranking members tell us what happened inside the church. They talk about levels and aliens and some other surprising stuff.

Also tonight, we don't take sides on 360. We want to cover all the angles, so a current Scientologist who's been with the church for years, is going to talk about the church and some of the comments made by the former members. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, tonight we're taking a close look at the Church of Scientology and it attracts celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, but its followers come really from all walks of life: Young and old, rich and poor. We wanted to know what draws people to this particular religion. A short time ago, I talked to former church insiders, who are now very much opposed to Scientology. Michael Pattinson attempted to sue the church after leaving. His lawsuits were dismissed. Tori Christman was a follower for 30 years.


COOPER: Michael, you became a Scientologist in 1973. You stayed more than 25 years. What initially attracted you to the organization? What was the appeal?

MICHAEL PATTINSON, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: The original appeal, Anderson, was that I had some stomach problems at the time and also on a completely unrelated matter, I happen to be gay in a very un-gay environment and so, I wanted to kind of cured of that, so to speak and I kind of thought it would be able to happen through "Dianetics" and Scientology.

COOPER: Do they -- did they tell you that they could cure you of being gay?

PATTINSON: Yes, in the books there are definitely prescriptions for Hubbard-type cures for being gay and I was relying upon that information when I went in.

COOPER: Tori, for you, it was some 30 years in the organization, What was it that brought you? Was it a spiritual longing? What was it?

TORI CHRISTMAN, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: It was a spiritual longing. I really wanted to help other people and I felt "Dianetics" and Scientology were able to do that.

COOPER: It's not cheap. I mean, what is -- what are you spending the money on? Are you taking classes?

CHRISTMAN: In Scientology, you have to pay for just about everything. They have a few free things to try to rope people in, but basically you pay for everything. It starts very inexpensive and builds rapidly into thousands, hundreds-of-thousands of dollars.

COOPER: Michael, you say you've spent, what? How much money?

PATTINSON: Approximately half-a-million dollars.

CHRISTMAN: Well, I know -- Yes, I would say $200,000, at least, was our inheritance we spent and more.

COOPER: And the objective is, Michael, to get clear. What does that mean?

PATTINSON: Basically, Hubbard specifies a clear as somebody who has eliminated their reactive mind, which seems to be a Hubbard invention in itself, as far as I'm concerned. And if you don't have this reactive mind, then you can apparently have full recall, no aberrations, no more sigh psychosomatic ills and things of this nature.

COOPER: So -- now Tori, you were at this very high level called C-org. What is that?

CHRISTMAN: The C-organization, Hubbard invented. It's basically his top people that work with him. They're very highly committed. They sign a billion-year contract to be part of the C-org.

COOPER: Do you know what level Tom Cruise is at?

CHRISTMAN: I know that he just did OT-7, which I did and it's a very dangerous level. I'll say that.

COOPER: Wait a minute, what is OT-7?

CHRISTMAN: OT-7 Hubbard -- remember, he said clear, where you clear your reactive mind is "Dianetics." That didn't really work. And Hubbard was a pretty good con man, so he said, let's come up with something else, "operating thaten." And these are all secret levels. And you can never know what they are, until you pay for them and are trained and get up to that level. Then you learn about it. And basically you're covered with space aliens. That's the essence.

COOPER: OK, wait a minute. So, Michael, wait, operating thatens, what is a thaten. And what do space aliens have to do with anything? PATTINSON: Well, basically the thaten is the Hubbard term for the spiritual being. And the space aliens are basically supposedly spiritual entities stuck within the body or around the body, which are supposed to get in communication with through Hubbard's Scientology processes and release them back into the atmosphere.

COOPER: You've seen Tom Cruise say there's nothing such as a chemical imbalance. They don't want people taking Prozac, Zoloft, or any form of drug for any kind of psychological issue. Why is that?

CHRISTMAN: I personally have epilepsy. And I take medication for it. And they tried to tell me I had to get off my medication. And I fought it for 30 years. But the truth is, you have to sign that Lisa clause that says you give away all of your rights to the Church of Scientology. And that is a dangerous thing.

COOPER: You said the Lisa clause, what is that?

CHRISTMAN: It's a form you sign, basically giving away your personal rights, your medical rights, your familia rights, everything to the Church of Scientology.

COOPER: As you know, both of you, Scientology says you are disgruntled members, you couldn't live up to the high ethical standards of the organization, and that's why you're speaking out. And Michael, you lodged a lawsuit against them that was dismissed alleging all sorts of things, none of which you were able to prove.

PATTINSON: That's almost the case. I had to dismiss the case in the end, because Scientology's lawyer gang bankrupted myself and my attorney in order to get out of going to trial.

COOPER: But your allegations -- I mean, you were alleging that John Travolta had seduced President Bill Clinton in order to change U.S. foreign policy to Germany and Sweden.

PATTINSON: There was a part of that in it, yes. That was true. I believe that actually did change something. I'm not sure exactly what, but I stand by the case that I filed against the Church of Scientology, definitely.

COOPER: Tori, what's the importance of having celebrities?

CHRISTMAN: Hubbard knew that celebrities have -- they have an audience that will listen to them, that -- you know, you ask anybody, Scientology, they say Tom Cruise, John Travolta. Well now, Tom Cruise, thank you, he's done some very good work for the people on the other side.

COOPER: Well, two former members. In a moment, a spokesman for the church responds to what these former members said. First, let's find out what's coming up at the top of the hour on "PAULA ZAHN NOW." Hey, Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson, thanks. We have an amazing story out of Arkansas tonight. Seven years ago, Mitchell Johnson pulled a fire alarm then ambushed and shot his fellow students as they fled from Westside Middle School in Jonesboro. Five people died that horrible day, a teacher, four students.

But tonight, Mitchell Johnson is eligible to walk out of prison, a completely free man. I'll tell you why. I will be speaking as well with the parents of one of his victims.

There is a real sense of fear in Jonesboro tonight, Anderson, even an investigator is telling us now they think this guy can legally purchase arms and that does not give them a sense of calm at all.

COOPER: Remarkable story six minutes from now. Paula, thanks.

Coming up next, though, on 360 tonight, we continue to look at Church of Scientology. The church responding tonight. My interview with a man defending the faith. We'll be right back.



TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: Matt, I'm asking you a question. Matt, I'm asking you a question.

MATT LAUER, TODAY SHOW: I understand there's abuse of all of these things.

CRUISE: Now, you see, here's the problem, you don't know the history of psychiatry. I do.


COOPER: Well, that was Tom Cruise on the "Today Show" several weeks ago. And in that appearance, raised a lot of eyebrows about the Church of Scientology among some people. And before the break, we heard from two former Scientologists. And here at 360 we don't take sides, cover all the angles. Tonight, we asked the church to respond, they've asked us to speak with Skip L'Heureaux. He's in Queens, New York. And is the Executive Director of Queens Federation of Churches. He's joins us on the phone.

Skip, thanks very much for being with us tonight.


COOPER: Michael Pattinson and Tori Christman, former members, say that Scientology, essentially cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in membership over the years and never really delivered on the promises that they -- that were made to them. Do you believe them?

L'HEUREAUX: I have no way of gauging that. I do know that Scientology makes charges for its auditing. But that's done one by one, like people take courses at schools. What you pay happens from time to time, you can make decisions as to whether you go forward or not.

COOPER: And what is your relationship with the church?

L'HEUREAUX: I actually have no direct relationship with the church. I'm a United Methodist pastor. I have been working in the area of religious liberty for the past 20 years. And I have become involved and knowledgeable with some members of the church, and leadership, by reason of those concerns for religious liberty.

COOPER: These two, who not on our program, but in other articles, have made claims about -- or other former members have made claims about alleged brainwashing. When you hear that, what do you think?

L'HEUREAUX: Brainwashing is substantially discredited smear attack. In the late '80s there was a team of people trying to get the American Psychological Association to declare that a particular pathology. And after they had done papers and conferences for about a year-and-a-half, the Association took an unprecedented step of saying, not only are we not going to endorse this, but we command that you not invoke the APA with any kind of connection with your study. It's absolutely without merit.

COOPER: What do you want people to know about the Church of Scientology to know that they don't understand?

L'HEUREAUX: Well, the Church of Scientology is a new religious movement, about 55-years-old. Religions have to start somewhere. It is a group of people seeking to improve their own lives and to offer the opportunity for others to improve their lives, according to certain guidelines. Their theology is clearly different from Christian theology, but it's not completely dissimilar. They talk in terms of a soul. Their term is phaden (ph) for that. They talk in terms of spiritual devils or, you know, people who would lead you astray. And I gather that's what was mocking referred to in the previous episode as space aliens.

COOPER: Well, I think what they were referring to was sort of the creation, you know, every religion has a creation myth or testament. They were saying that of the highest reaches, that Scientology, that the creation story is based on a space alien, I guess, named Zenu or Zanu. Do you know anything about that?

L'HEUREAUX: I don't have all the details of that. But, you know, each religion has a different set of myths explaining the important things. My direct contact with, probably, at this point 200 or 300 active members of the Church of Scientology at different levels within the church hierarchy, have brought me in touch with people who are well motivated, very intelligent, work well together and seem quite enthusiastic about what they're doing.

COOPER: Skip, we appreciate you joining us and appreciate your perspective. Thanks very much.

"PAULA ZAHN NOW" is next -- Paula.



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