San Patricio County rejects charge against former Scientology official Rathbun

Corpus Christi Caller Times/September 20, 2011

Corpus Christi -- An assault case against former Scientology official Mark "Marty" Rathbun was rejected by the San Patricio County Attorney's Office Tuesday, less than four days after Rathbun's arrest.

County Attorney David Aken said his office determined no jury would convict Rathbun after seeing the way in which the complainant and his Scientology film crew had been videotaping Rathbun's life for the last 155 days.

Rathbun was arrested Friday on a warrant stemming from an incident around Sept. 1 when he asked film crew member Norman James Moore to stop bothering his wife outside their home in Ingleside on the Bay. When Moore didn't respond, Rathbun snatched Moore's sunglasses from his face. Moore pressed a misdemeanor assault charge, saying his forehead had been scratched.

"We took a totality of the circumstances," Aken said. "We examined the level of provocation and the extent of the injury, which was literally a scratch."

Rathbun said he was pleased with the rapid response.

"It's just and indication of how frivolous it was in the first place," he said.

Moore and other film crew members could not be reached for comment.

The drama playing out in Ingleside on the Bay has annoyed residents and captured the attention of Scientology critics around the globe.

Rathbun once directed legal affairs for the church and coordinated operations intended to intimidate or silence church critics. Now, having defected from the church, he finds himself on the opposite end of the kinds of activities he once directed.

The Scientology film crew calls itself the Squirrel Busters. In Scientology, a squirrel is a heretic. The Squirrel Busters have been surveilling Rathbun since April, claiming to film a documentary about him.

But Rathbun and Bert Leahy, a freelance videographer who worked briefly for the Squirrel Busters, say the group was sent by the church to harass Rathbun for speaking out about church abuses and for leading a growing movement of Scientologists who are leaving the church to practice the religion on their own. The Squirrel Busters say they are not affiliated with the organized church, though documents show they have exchanged correspondence with the church's legal director.

Friday's arrest was at least the third case in which a member of the crew pursued charges against Rathbun only to have the case rejected by the county.

In the most recent incident, on Aug. 13, the film crew complained that Rathbun damaged their microphone when he pretended to wash his car and sprayed them with a garden hose as they filmed outside his house. Rathbun also filmed himself spraying the crew members and posted the video on his blog. He used the disco dance tune "Car Wash" for a soundtrack.

The film crew pursued criminal mischief charges for the damaged microphone, but the county attorney's office reviewed the case and declined it, according to reports filed by the San Patricio County Sheriff's Office.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.