Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Beck are among the celebs promoted as the cheerful face of the Church of Scientology. But one die-hard critic of the sect claims it's more sinister than anyone suspects.
Keith Henson is eager to talk to Cruise biographer Andrew Morton about his battles with Scientology, but it might have to be a quick conversation — considering that Henson is on the lam.
Four years ago, Henson, an electrical engineer, was convicted in Riverside County (Calif.) Superior Court of harassing members of the church. Prosecutors pointed to his picketing a Scientology film studio, and a Web chat in which he talked about aiming a "Cruise" missile at the studio.
Henson insists he was joking. But after being sentenced to a year in Riverside County's jail, he says he wasn't laughing when a law enforcement officer "said I was not likely to come out of jail alive."
Henson fled to Canada. Last April, he tells us, a private eye working for the church tracked him down in Brantford, Ontario, and nearly plowed him down in an alley — just as he claims other private eyes have tried to run him off the road.
Denied asylum in Canada, he's now on the run. This week, he blew through New York. For protection, he has hired his own private eye, Paul Barresi, who tangled with the Scientologists after he told a tabloid he'd had an intimate relationship with Travolta (a claim Barresi later recanted).
Scientology spokesman Ed Parkin calls Henson's claims "absurd," adding, "he uses the media to create controversy and deflect attention from his own crimes."
For now, says Henson, he's looking for a state "where it's legal to kill bounty hunters."