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Paulette Cooper on HBO Scientology film: Told you so

Going Clear,” the new documentary about the Church of Scientology that premiered over the weekend on HBO, includes several former members who call the religion a cult — and a dangerous one at that. What it doesn’t include is the story of Paulette Cooper, who was one of Scientology’s first and fiercest critics, having written “The Scandal of Scientology” in 1971, long before much of America knew anything about L. Ron Hubbard’s church. Cooper lives in Florida these days, but back in 1981 she sued the Church of Scientology in federal court in Boston for $25 million. She alleged that Boston-based Scientologists had broken into the Belmont office of a psychiatrist she’d seen while a student at Brandeis and stole her file. It was part of a long and devious pattern of harassment by the church, she claimed. The suit was settled in 1985. “I was one of the only people in America warning people, so they came after me,” Cooper, 72, told us Tuesday. “They sued me 19 times and did all sorts of other things to get me to stop speaking out.” What does she think of director Alex Gibney’s documentary? “It’s a lot of people saying things I’ve been screaming since 1971. I don’t want to be negative about it, but there’s nothing in it I didn’t know,” she said. “I do have friends who thought I was the slightly crazy one but they watched the movie and I’m getting e-mails saying, ‘Now I see what you were talking about.’ ”

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