The Church of Scientology paid a pair of private investigators $10,000 a week to spy on the father of David Miscavige, the organization's leader, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Ronald Miscavige Sr. was put under surveillance for 18 months by detectives in the employ of the Church, the Times reported. The investigators spied on his email, eavesdropped on his conversations and installed a GPS tracking system in his car.
The surveillance came to light after the Times obtained documents detailing a police interrogation of one of the detectives, former Florida private investigator Dwayne S. Powell, who was arrested in Wisconsin in 2013 on suspicion of obstruction, after being found with guns and ammunition in a vehicle near Miscavige Sr.'s home.
Powell and his son reportedly carried out surveillance of Ronald Miscavige Sr., after he left the church. Scientology leaders feared that Miscavige Sr. may divulge information that would be damaging to the organization, the paper said.
"When Ron would go to the library to check his emails, they would stand behind him and take pictures of the screen. When he would be eating at a restaurant, they would sit nearby or at his table and listen to his conversations. If Ron was in his vehicle on the phone, they would pull up next to him and monitor his conversation," the Times report said.
David Miscavige's attorney, Michael Lee Hertzberg, denied any connection between his client and Powell. “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 never directed any investigations by Mr. Powell," the lawyer told the Times.
Scientology is notorious for the hard line it takes against critics, and those who have left the organization. The recent HBO documentary “Going Clear,” detailed allegations of how the church used private investigators to harass and intimidate Monique Rathbun, the wife of former senior Scientology official Marty Rathbun. Rathbun is currently involved in a lawsuit against the church.
The investigators also alleged that when they saw Miscavige Sr., slumped against his car, grabbing his chest, as though in cardiac distress, they were told by a man who identified himself as David Miscavige, “if it was Ron's time to die, to let him die and not intervene in any way.”
David Miscavige rose to the top of Scientology's leadership, after spending his teenage years as an assistant to L. Ron Hubbard, the group's founder. Several former members of the church have alleged that Miscavige was physically abusive to them during their time in the church, as detailed in Lawrence Wright's book “Going Clear,” and Janet Reitman's book “Inside Scientology.”