The Real Story
Mike Rinder’s record of criminal conduct in the Church, as far as discovered, began in 1995 when he was responsible for the Church’s legal affairs.
Off his own bat and unbeknownst to the Church, Rinder, working with two co-conspirators, suborned perjury and hid evidence in a police investigation opened that year in Florida. The Church was not culpable in the case and was ultimately fully exonerated, but Rinder’s concealed crimes caused a years-long legal ordeal to the detriment of the Church and its leader. As the truth came to light over the following years, Rinder was removed and ultimately expelled from the Church.
Rinder colluded in and hid a criminal conspiracy from the Church and its leader
The case stemmed from an accidental tragedy in December 1995 that took the life of a psychotic woman who had been staying on Church premises in Clearwater, Florida.
As the facts ultimately revealed, the woman, suffering severe psychosis, had been allowed to stay on the premises in her state by one of Rinder’s co-conspirators, in direct violation of Church policy. In an attempt to cover up the truth, Rinder created a false story of the woman’s circumstances and suborned perjury—forcing witnesses to lie to authorities—and concealed his crime from the Church.
Rinder’s criminality muddied the legal landscape and exacerbated an already emotionally charged investigation. What followed was an unmerciful two years of criminal proceedings, media accusations and charges brought against the Church, fueled by Rinder’s undisclosed culpability. The Church’s ecclesiastical leader, Mr. David Miscavige, was forced to step in and personally handle the matter. Not surprisingly, Rinder stayed silent about his malfeasance.
Based on the medical evidence, the tragedy was finally ruled an accident and the State dropped all charges against the Church.
Mike Rinder’s actions resulted in the Church’s leader being sued and accused of Rinder’s own criminal conduct
A civil suit went forward, incited, funded and exploited by several anti-Scientologists with an avowed agenda to take out the Church and its leader. An attempt was made to add defendants to the case, including Rinder and the Church’s leader. Rinder, responsible for defending the case and attending to the court arguments, emerged with himself dismissed as a defendant and Mr. Miscavige gratuitously added, thus becoming the principal target.
During a 60-day hearing in 2002, allegations of missing evidential records became a core issue in the litigation. Hostile witnesses seized on the opportunity to launch an assault on the Church’s leader, repeatedly accusing him of destroying documents.
Having no knowledge of these matters, and not trusting Mike Rinder, Mr. Miscavige ordered a top-down search of Rinder’s office facilities for the missing records Mr. Miscavige was being accused of having destroyed. Astoundingly, the “destroyed” evidence was located in one hour in Mike Rinder’s office storage in Los Angeles—vindicating Mr. Miscavige. Rinder had been sitting on the evidence all along, saying nothing, while the Church’s leader was under an unjust onslaught.
Rinder admitted dishonesty, a criminal moral code and “doing illegal things”
Mike Rinder attempted to clear his conscience by volunteering a series of written confessions on his dishonesty. On August 21, 2003, in a document to the Church’s leader titled “My Honesty,” Rinder wrote: “Many times I’ve looked at the overts [transgressions] I’ve committed when I have lied to you…it is a reflection of my cowardice and lack of integrity that I would do this and it’s just black and white wrong.”
On January 29, 2004, Rinder wrote: “Bottom line is that I’ve had a totally criminal moral code and operated with a totally ‘criminal mind’ attitude that I have not fully confronted (even down to ‘lying about lying’ and doing illegal things)….” In reference to the latter, he further admitted: “Some things ‘had to be done’ and would not be spoken about and I would have to take heat and ‘suck it up’…it was criminal.”
On February 20, 2005, Rinder authored a typed and signed apology to the Church’s leader: “Your insistence, for months and years, that I get straight is the only thing that has actually brought me to my senses. Several times in the past, I pretended to myself, you and others, that I had confronted my out ethics [unethical behavior] and gotten myself handled. It was not true…I wasn’t honest with myself, you or anyone else, as I continued to operate on a ‘moral code’ (justification) of what I could ‘get away with.’”
Even years after he was expelled from the Church, Rinder testified under oath that he told so many lies to the Church’s leader, he could not estimate a number.
Mike Rinder’s malfeasance concerned not only his severe dishonesty and hidden criminality, but also physical abuse of subordinates, especially women. Rinder himself would admit: “I lost my temper and took it out on staff with psychotic yelling and even physical assaults.”
Mike Rinder walked out and deserted his family
His misconduct exposed—even if the criminal depths were still veiled—Rinder knew he would never again hold an executive position within the Church.
In June 2007, while on a probationary assignment in England, Rinder walked out and kept walking, without a word to anyone—including his wife and two children, whom he deserted.
“I left. I walked out of the Church, I walked away from my family, knowing I was walking away from my family,” Rinder eventually admitted to a TV host.
Three weeks later, Rinder finally emailed a Church acquaintance and included a second-hand message to his wife, Cathy, telling her he was not coming back.
“That is how he broke up our marriage of over 30 years—is an email to somebody else,” Cathy said, adding that Mike Rinder never once asked about their children.
Rinder found he could make a living attacking the Church and its leader
After two years of struggling to make it selling cars, Rinder reconnected with his former co-conspirator, Mark Rathbun, who had also left the Church and was leading a ring of anti-Scientologists. Rathbun arranged a job for Rinder with a collaborator who had avowed his aim to “destroy” the Church and its leader.
Rinder went to work accordingly, banking on his fraudulent status as a “former Church executive.” That Rinder would have an ax to grind with the Church and its leader—the man he stabbed in the back with his felonious conduct and who removed him in disgrace—is no surprise.
What was a surprise is that Rathbun admitted to a reporter what the Church would learn for the first time: the criminal conspiracy he, Rinder and another co-conspirator had carried out, for which the statute of limitations had since expired.
Regardless of Rinder being exposed as a criminal, media continued to give him attention for his scurrilous and sensational allegations. Financially backed, Rinder made a career of it. He joined Rathbun, who, late in 2009, started up the so-called “Independent Scientologists.” Comprised of a smattering of expelled former Church members, they proclaimed themselves the “real” Scientologists and sought to start a competitor church for personal profit. That goal also required they go all out in a far-fetched attempt to tear down the genuine Church and its leader.
Rinder devised his “devious plan” to extort the Church for a “fast profit”
Rinder immediately took up the Independents’ agenda, devising and mailing to Rathbun a harassment and extortion scheme through which he hoped to profit by millions from the Church.
Rinder blatantly called it his “devious plan”: He and two accomplices would covertly acquire a building next to the Church’s spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, Florida. They would then announce the property as the future home of the “International Association of Independent Scientologists,” revealing its true purpose to serve as a vehicle for Church antagonists to harass the Church and its leadership. Rinder’s stated intention was to extort the Church into purchasing the building at an exorbitant price if it wanted to be at peace. “We will make a fast profit by selling,” he wrote.
Rathbun declined to take part. He ultimately posted the incriminating document online in October 2020, revealing that Rinder had sent it to him by mail “for fear that talking about it on the phone or creating a digital record through e-mail might create evidence of criminally punishable extortion.”
Rinder had squarely become what he had described in testimony when he was in the Church: one of a few “who are bitter and harbor an unabiding [sic] resentment of Scientology and what it stands for and for their own failures in the Church. They view the Church as their ‘lottery ticket’ and pursue their jackpot with lies.”
Mike Rinder reinvented himself as a “real Scientologist” for profit
Rinder next teamed up with an “Independent Scientologist” benefactor on a much larger scheme: a fantastical plan to recruit former Church members to file a barrage of lawsuits to “financially crush the Church to death,” in order to gain the wherewithal required to bring the Independent sect to fruition. Their stated goal was to net from the Church of Scientology “all the cash”—a hopeful $1 billion—and “all [Church] buildings in our hands,” as well as obtain the copyrights to the religion’s scriptural materials for themselves.
In return for financial support and free housing from his benefactor, Rinder agreed to lead the charge as a “voice” of a spurious Independents “movement.”
Rinder plunged into his role. Reinventing himself as a “real Scientologist,” he went so far as to ordain himself the first (and only) “minister” of the “Independent Church of Scientology.”
Rinder publicly declared his adherence to Scientology, refuting any notion that he had ever renounced his religion. “I never did,” he asserted to a TV host in 2011, “I never did.” He would continue to make that assertion for several more years while attempting to recruit Independents and prospective litigants in the process.
Mike Rinder’s “church” failed, and he found pay in anti-Scientology
By 2014, Rinder’s effort had yielded only one lawsuit—which ultimately failed—and no jackpot. Rinder had also lost his backing when his benefactor ran out of cash. The “Independent movement” evaporated, and the specious litigation plans went up in smoke.
Rinder was back to working different jobs when, in late 2015, he was offered another “lottery ticket”—this time to take part in Leah Remini’s anti-Scientology Aftermath program.
No sooner had Rinder cashed in his new ticket than he shed all pretense of his recent history as a devout Scientologist. “I haven’t been considering myself to be a Scientologist for ten years,” he now asserted.
Moreover, Rinder declared, “Today, the state of affairs with respect to Scientology is, you’re pretty much free to do and say anything you want….They’re fair game for the media.”
Rinder fulfilled his role accordingly. As just one example: In 2015, months before his paid partnership with Remini, Rinder proclaimed that Scientologists are “good people…really doing something to change the world for the better.” In 2017, after a year of profiting from Aftermath, Rinder borrowed a page from Goebbels to proclaim that Scientologists are “like cornered rats and will ultimately be wiped out entirely because they are such menacing, antagonistic and rabid vermin.”
Rinder is behind multiple false reports on the Church to law enforcement
Mike Rinder is a source of multiple false reports on the Church to law enforcement. As a salient example, for Aftermath, Rinder and Leah Remini induced discreditable individuals to file false reports about the Church with the police as a requirement to appear on the show. The reports from these so-called “victims” were meant to give credence to lies about the Church and to protect Rinder, Remini and the network from defamation claims.
One such “victim”—who reported a ludicrous, Pizzagate-inspired conspiracy of police and the Church using “underground tunnels” to collude in human trafficking—told police that he had to file his report in order to be on the TV show. The police report also made specific note: “[Victim] wants us to speak to Mike Rinder.”
Another “victim” Rinder procured for the show made outrageous, false claims to police of a vile and prurient nature. The police report stated: “[S]he is appearing on the A&E Network with the ‘Aftermath Foundation’ against the Church of Scientology and was required to bring forward the following information before the show is aired.” The woman’s segment was canceled when the network was informed that she had earlier been found guilty of lying to the police.
Police thoroughly investigated the claims of a half-dozen individuals who filed such reports during Aftermath, including interviewing scores of witnesses—Scientologist and non-Scientologist alike. In the end, months and even years after Rinder and Remini propagated the false reports, police closed all cases. Not one single witness or piece of evidence corroborated any of the fabricated stories. Not only did no witness corroborate anything Rinder’s complainants alleged, but witnesses told the police the complainants were liars.
Rinder is a continual source of malicious false reports to harass the Church and its leader
Mike Rinder continually manufactures false reports and malicious harassment. Case in point: In March 2020, as soon as Covid-19 safety restrictions took effect in Clearwater, Florida, Rinder altered the date of a video shot the previous week of Church staff exiting a bus so he could falsely claim the Church was violating social distancing. He then posted the falsified video so that it was, in turn, sent to bots and cells around the globe to manufacture hundreds of messages to the City, creating the fallacy of a local “uproar.”
An ensuing surprise inspection by the chief of police found the Church, of course, in full compliance with safety restrictions. Analytics found the “uproar” came from 576 Twitter accounts, only 11, or 1.9%, of which were local—virtually all associated with Rinder. The rest were almost uniformly anonymous accounts in locales as far afield as Ghana, Russia and Sri Lanka.
Rinder has further used false reports to foment harassing litigation against the Church and its leader as an “expert” at the hire of ambulance-chasing, unscrupulous lawyers. His intent is to prey on a judiciary uninformed on Scientology, with bizarre and inflammatory interpretations of its beliefs and practices—hoping to appeal to prejudice and put the religion on trial in blatant violation of the First Amendment. His efforts have resulted in one failure after another.
In one such attempt, in December 2020, Rinder’s “expert testimony” was jettisoned by the Los Angeles Superior Court: “The [Rinder] declaration is filled with unsupported assumptions, foundational deficiencies, irrelevant matters, improper opinions, and arguments.”
Mike Rinder abused his family, assaulted and permanently injured his wife
Mike Rinder’s lies and criminality have extended to his own family. Several months after Rinder deserted his wife and children, doctors diagnosed his son, Benjamin, with a rare and highly aggressive form of malignant melanoma. The young man was given five years to live.
For nearly two years, Benjamin endured an excruciating but successful war against the cancer, including multiple disfiguring facial surgeries and reconstruction. Mike Rinder was never heard from once the entire time, even after he had moved to Safety Harbor, Florida—a 15-minute drive from Clearwater, where Benjamin lived.
When media learned of this abhorrent fact, they questioned Rinder’s lack of attention to his son. Rinder’s response was to pull a despicable, self-serving stunt: While Benjamin was in recovery in 2010, Rinder, accompanied by Mark Rathbun, attempted an ambush “visit” on his son, complete with a video operator to record the encounter for inquiring media. The attempt failed as Benjamin refused to see his father, who had scarcely paid him attention his entire life.
Mark Rathbun later revealed that he, Rathbun, had orchestrated the entire stunt for exactly what it was: an attempt for Rinder to save his own face.
For Benjamin’s mother and sister, their estranged husband and father had crossed the line. Along with Mike Rinder’s brother and several long-term family friends and former associates of Rinder, they set out to Clearwater to have words with him. Rinder’s response was to violently assault Cathy. He seized the diminutive, 5′ 3″ woman in a vice grip that gouged her right arm, wrenched her shoulder, dislocated her collarbone and fractured another bone. The resulting nerve damage and mobility loss in Cathy’s right arm impaired her for life.
“It’s a permanent disability that will always be there with her,” Cathy’s orthopedic surgeon concluded after nearly five years of treatment, including surgery.
Rinder’s assault on his then wife—and his trail of denials and lies about the incident—serve as a metaphor for the man and his evolution as a criminal and duplicitous husband, father, son and colleague who has finagled his way through life while leaving disaster in his wake.
Through the years since Rinder left the Church, several alert media hosts have questioned him as to how one can know if he was lying before, or lying now—and why should people believe him.
“They have got to make up their own mind,” Rinder answered one such host. “They’ve got to look at me. They’ve got to say, ‘OK, what we see here is someone that we believe is telling the truth.’ Or ‘What we see here is someone who seems to be just a liar.’”
This is a man who suborned perjury, who lost count of the number of lies he told to the Church’s leader, who lied to his own family, and who has generated false reports to authorities to harass the Church and its leader. This is a man whose self-narrative has even been a lie, changing his story for personal profit.
This is also a man with a proven and admitted record of malfeasance and criminal acts. Mike Rinder does not just seem to be a liar; he is a criminal liar.