Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige reportedly hired two private investigators to track his father for a year and a half because he was concerned he would spill damaging secrets about the religious organization.
According to police records obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the church paid two private investigators $10,000 a week through a third party to tail Ronald Miscavige Sr., 79, in his hometown of West Allis, Wisconsin after he defected from Scientology two years ago.
The detectives were reportedly ordered to eavesdrop on the elder Miscagive’s conversations, monitor his emails, and even place a GPS tracking device on his car.
The surveillance plot was revealed after Dwayne S. Powell, one of the investigators reportedly hired by the church, was arrested in July 2013 near Milwaukee after residents reported a suspicious man in the neighborhood. Police reportedly found two rifles, four handguns, a homemade silencer and thousands of rounds of ammunition in the trunk of Powell’s car.
According to the Times, Powell was arrested on suspicion of obstruction. While he initially refused to name his employer, he eventually told police he was hired by the Church of Scientology to provide around-the-clock surveillance of the elder Miscavige.
Powell reportedly told authorities that he and he son Daniel, 21, would photograph the elder Miscavige everywhere he went, stand behind him at the library so they could read his emails over his shoulder, and would sit next to him or behind him at restaurants to monitor his activities and conversations.
In one incident, while tracking Miscavige in a supermarket parking lot, the investigators told police they witnessed him grasp at his chest and slump over while loading grocery bags in his car. They called their intermediary and waited for instructions. Powell told police that two minutes later, he received a call from a man identifying himself as David Miscavige.
“David told him that if it was Ron’s time to die, to let him die and not intervene in any way,” the police record stated, according to the Times. The elder Miscavige apparently recovered from the incident.
Michael Lee Hertzberg, an attorney for David Miscavige, told the Times in an email that he never hired Powell to conduct surveillance, and had never even met the man.
“Please be advised that Mr. Miscavige does not know Mr. Powell, has never heard of Mr. Powell, has never met Mr. Powell, has never spoken to Mr. Powell, never hired Mr. Powell and directed any investigations by Mr. Powell,” Hertzberg wrote. The attorney did not respond to the newspaper’s specific request for comment about the health scare incident.
The latest charge of spying by the church follows years of allegations of intimidation tactics and widespread physical and mental abuse within Scientology. A new HBO exposé, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, details the allegations against the church, including that it silences critics and uses sensitive member information gleaned from “auditing” sessions to keep adherents from defecting.
Ronald Miscavige would not comment about the surveillance to the Times, but according to police records from September, he and his wife said they had reason to believe they were still being watched by the church.
“They advised that Ronald’s son, David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology, is obviously having them watched because they left the church two years ago and David is afraid that Ronald will speak with the media about the negative inner workings of the church and David’s abuse of the members of the church,” the police report stated, according to the paper.
Powell told the Times that he has stopped working for the church and that he is no longer working as a private investigator.