Dan Sherman letter to Editor, The Boston Herald (ca. March 1998)

A word from L. Ron Hubbard’s official biographer1

Dear Editor,

Regardless of what other political machinations may have led to your Joseph Mallia report on L. Ron Hubbard2 you have traipsed down the same shoddy path as the tabloid papers and “pop” biographies Mallia holds up as his precedent. That is, your Joseph Mallia has dredged up the same now discredited sources to regurgitate the same tired lies and all for the same editorial ploy: Let’s not just merely prejudice our readers against every man, woman and child who proudly call themselves Scientologists; let’s also tarnish the reputation of the Founder. (After all, anything goes since he’s no longer living and can’t respond.)

Very well. But as L. Ron Hubbard’s official biographer – as an author with access to the whole of Mr. Hubbard’s archival records, very much including those records pertaining to the war – I do wish your Mallia might have exhibited the integrity to have at least requested I sidecheck his allegations. Your Joseph Mallia is either intentionally misleading his readers with patently inaccurate statements or was himself very sadly misled.

Here’s the classic case in point: L. Ron Hubbard was never relieved of duty from a Pacific-based USS Algol when he “apparently concealed a gasoline bomb on board the USS Algol in order to avoid combat.” Not only is the statement false – for Mr. Hubbard discovered a concealed gasoline bomb aboard the Algol – but his services aboard the Algol terminated with a promotion to the United States School of Military Government at Princeton University.

Moreover, the document upon which Mallia based the statement – a 1982 court affidavit from an estranged son – is quite broadly known to be bogus. Indeed, the affidavit had only been concocted when Mr. Hubbard’s estranged son attempted to dupe a California court into granting him probate of the L. Ron Hubbard estate. To the same end, came all other allegations Joseph Mallia now fobs off as fact… To which I now ask: Why, Mr. Mallia, did you not inform your readers that the real source of those accusations is a 1983 interview with Ronald DeWolfe in a porno magazine and later retracted by DeWolfe as entirely fabricated?

Yes, your Joseph Mallia has quoted from a source who eventually admitted he made the whole thing up.

Now, how does that feel?

Here’s another, perhaps even more to the point: your Joseph Mallia leads off his article with a recitation of Superior Court Judge Paul Breckenridge’s ruling from the 1984 case involving “a top Scientology defector’s court suit against the Church.”

Well, gentlemen, I spoke with Judge Paul Breckenridge. I further spoke – at length – with that top Scientology defector, and let me simply say you have done your readers and your reputation a very grave disservice. The facts are these: that defector is none other than Gerald Armstrong 3 – former Scientology clerk, former paid agent of a renegade government intelligence service and, frankly, a certifiable nut. After failing to seize Church assets in a truly bizarre scheme involving the forging of incriminating evidence and the secret planting of that evidence on Church premises, he next appears in the public eye as the would-be masochist for Saddam Hussein. That is, he actually proposed Hussein accept him as a willing hostage for the release of prisoners, significantly adding: “I will be available for torture.” Needless to say, even those within Hussein’s camp had sense enough not to reply.

But in either case, this is the man whose testimony inspired the Breckenridge decision. This is a man who when asked “How does one prove such testimony?” casually replied, “You don’t have to prove a god damn thing! You don’t have to prove s__t! You just allege it!” Finally this is also a man who was recently found in multiple contempts of court for violating court orders and agreements he had entered into. He now lives as a fugitive from a jail sentence.

Need I say more on the matter?

Lastly, let me address what your Joseph Mallia presents as his journalistic coup: the statements regarding L. Ron Hubbard’s service aboard the United States Naval vessel, the YP 422. For the record Mr. Hubbard never claimed to have seen action aboard that vessel. Nor does one find that statement in the “Church of Scientology’s official Internet Site.” Your Mr. Mallia has jumped to an inaccurate conclusion. More to our point, however, are his statements regarding “the first former crewman with direct knowledge of the ship’s activities to publicly dispute Hubbard’s claim.”

I do not know what led your Mallia to this former crewman, but I do know this: according to ship’s records, which I possess in full, Eugene Lemare did not serve beneath Mr. Hubbard. Indeed – and this from my subsequent conversation with Lemare – the man had never even heard of Lt. L. Ron Hubbard prior to Mallia’s telephone call, and certainly possessed not a shred of information pertaining to the YP 422 under Mr. Hubbard’s command. That is – and once more very bluntly – your Mallia has either lied or relied upon information that he could very easily have found to be false by a direct inquiry to me. He has presented this Eugene Lemare as a source of damning information when, in fact, poor Lemare knew nothing of the matter. In that regard, your Mallia may have sinned in precisely the same way Janet Cooke had sinned when accepting a Pulitzer Prize for an entirely fabricated story.

I might further add, Mallia as much as lied in conveniently failing to mention what a Francis Delmarmol, who took over command of the YP 422 in late 1942, concluded regarding Lt. Hubbard:

“It is with considerable pleasure that I find this ship in such excellent condition and discover that her stores and hull and machinery is in a state of high operating efficiency, superior to that of the other vessels of this division. It is with considerable gratitude that I receive from you a well trained crew.”

Finally, and specifically as regards Delmarmol’s remarks regarding Lt. Hubbard’s fitness for command, let me add this: while Lt. Hubbard went on to earn 21 medals and palms for distinguished service through the war, Delmarmol went on to run that YP 422 aground on a coral reef.

I could say more, for your Joseph Mallia report on L. Ron Hubbard is about as flagrantly inaccurate as any I have ever seen. But now it’s my turn: I have spent the better part of the last eight years examining every point of L. Ron Hubbard’s life, every extant document, and the source of every allegation Mr. Mallia tosses off. And with all those eight years in mind, and all else I have witnessed through the preparation of an L. Ron Hubbard biography, I have only this to say: How does Joseph Mallia get off presenting an historical article on L. Ron Hubbard, and yet fail to even ask L. Ron Hubbard’s official biographer for a statement?

While to the Herald, which ran with the Mallia piece, I ask this: What makes your paper run?

o0o

Notes

  1. Document source: archive.org. Published in Scientology’s Boston Herald: Merchant of Sensationalism.
  2. See Boston Herald series Scientology Unmasked > Judge Found Hubbard lied about achievements.
  3. From Scientology’s published response to Scientology Unmasked, a page on Gerald Armstrong