A new database section devoted exclusively to Landmark Education’s litigation efforts is up and running. This includes Landmark’s humiliating defeat by lawyers representing CultNews and its sponsor the Ross Institute of New Jersey.

The new subsection contains interesting material obtained through various court files that sheds considerable light upon the legal wrangling, inner workings and business dealings of the controversial for-profit company that sells seminar training courses.

Peter L. SkolnikThe mass maarathon training that Landmark promotes and markets to individuals and companies alike has been described as “cultish,” “cult-like” and compared to both “brainwashing” and “hypnosis.”

Landmark, which has a history of bad press, complaints and lawsuits filed against it by past participants claiming serious personal injuries linked to its programs, has historically sued its critics in an apparent effort to silence them.

This strategy relied upon defendants either unable or unwilling to pay substantial legal fees and costs. This type of litigation is often simply called a “harassment lawsuit.”

However, Landmark was thwarted in its effort to harass the Ross Institute through the kind assistance of pro bono legal counsel and so it instead suffered a humiliating public defeat.

Now everyone can read how that defeat was accomplished and take a guided tour through Landmark’s litigation written by the very attorneys that caused the company for the first time to file for the dismissal of its own lawsuit.

Peter L. Skolnik and Michael A. Norwick of the prestigious New Jersey law firm Lowenstein Sandler have written an excellent overview making it easy for the reader to follow the often twisted path of Landmark’s litigation, see the filings complete with attached exhibits.

Landmark, formerly known as EST, was initially concocted by Jack Rosenberg a former car and encyclopedia salesman, who later changed his name to “Werner Erhard.”

Erhard reportedly sold control of his company to a group of employees more in 1991, but it has been run by his brother Harry Rosenberg and legally represented by Erhard crony Art Schreiber ever since. Some have speculated that Erhard never really completely relinquished control of the company and still remains a power behind-the-scenes.

The papers formalizing the sale of EST are now accessible on-line through the Internet in the new subsection, complete with payment records. Erhard, who is now an old man, lives reclusively with his girlfriend in the Cayman Islands at Georgetown.

Confidential manual excerpts reflect the seemingly sinister side of Landmark’s inner workings. Its training manual states, “a Landmark Forum Supervisor’ needs to be an s.o.b. for impeccability. You need to give up a concern for being liked. . . . Be a destroyer. . . . ” and “Don’t ever let people move or stand up or talk before you have declared the start of the break. Don’t ever let stuff like that go by. Ever, ever, ever.”

Landmark’s various apparent harassment lawsuits are detailed within the new subsection. This includes documents and related exhibits from Landmark’s litigation against Erhard biographer Steven Pressman, Elle Magazine, Self Magazine, Now Magazine, the Cult Awareness Network and its director Cynthia Kisser, psychologist and author Margaret Singer, cult deprogrammer Kevin Garvey and author Janja Lalich.

Also included is material from lawsuits filed against Landmark Education, notably Been V. Weed regarding a wrongful death claim and the Neff case, which involved a woman beaten and raped by David Grill when he was the Executive Director of Landmark Education in Dallas, Texas.

Michael A. NorwickOther lawsuits filed against Landmark that are also noted reflect a repeated of personal injury claims. Landmark appeared to address this by insisting potential participants in its programs sign away their right to a trial by jury if an injury occurred and instead submit to binding arbitration. 

All of this material has now been carefully organized into a virtual electronic library, which provides those interested with a historical inventory regarding Landmark’s legal history.

Hopefully, anyone legally threatened by Landmark in the future will use this resource for any needed research or due dilligence.

CultNews hopes that this information may reduce the unreasonable fear some journalists and critics may have regarding reporting about and/or criticizing Landmark Education and its course curriculum.

It should be apparent to anyone reviewing this material that Landmark has lost lawsuits repeatedly. And that any future lawsuit, which fits within this historical pattern of frivolous filings, should be viewed within that context by those concerned such as potential targets, concerned lawyers and the courts.

Perhaps as a result of its most recent defeat and the subsequent public revelations, Landmark’s operators will reconsider filing frivolous lawsuits in the future. If not because this type of activity lacks integrity and is an abuse of the legal system, then because with so much historical information readily available, those harassed may subsequently successfully seek costs, fees and sanctions.

Perhaps Lowenstein Sandler and its able attorneys Peter Skolnik and Michael Norwick have educated Landmark and caused the company to reconsider running what can be seen as a legal “racket.” And just maybe Landmark will learn a lesson from its recent defeat and take responsibility for its actions. Now that would really be a “breakthrough,” wouldn’t it?

It has been observed that Scientology’s most important celebrities seem to almost always have Scientologists nearby in what can be seen as constant surveillance or special handling.

Tom and Katie plus two more makes fourThe list of heavy hitters worthy of such an effort has included the very rich Lisa Marie Presley, John Travolta, Tom Cruise, billionaire heir James Packer and most recently Katie Holmes.

A reportedly “creepy” example of this surfaced recently ”down under” while Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes visited to attend the funeral of the late Kerry Packer, Australia’s richest man. The couple were constantly shadowed by a “mystery” pair seen at every function that the two attended reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

Scientology’s “Top Gun” has himself seemingly been stalking Australian billionaires lately, apparently hoping to land one for his controversial church. This has included heirs to both the Packer and Murdoch fortunes, the two richest families in the country.

But Cruise and Holmes appeared to be getting stalked themselves by another couple.

The female component of this probable Scientology surveillance team was likely Ms. Holmes apparent full-time handler Jessica Rodriquez, now supposedly Katie’s “best friend.” 

The former teen idol, whose career has gone from acting to becoming a suitable mate and child bearer for the “world’s biggest movie star,” may have become the Scientology version of the “Virgin Mary.”

The man shadowing Mr. Cruise remains a complete mystery, but the press described him as both “weird” and “creepy.”

“Every move Tom made, this guy did the same thing…When Tom stripped down to his shorts, so did he,” reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

And the “mystery couple” was busy reporting information to someone.

They ”carried their Blackberries everywhere, watching Tom and Katie while incessantly tapping out messages to persons unknown” reported the press.

So it seems Scientology headquarters may never be more than a text tap away when you are as important an asset as Tom Cruise.

This foursome is indeed a bit “weird” and “creepy.”

Former teen idol now mother Britney Spears has called Madonna for advice and the one-time “Material Girl” supposedly is ready to help her when she returns to California reports the Ottawa Sun.

Is Madonna a good role model?So far Madonna has told the young singing star ”to get a first-rate trainer and dietician.”

The 47-year-old diva reportedly ”thinks Britney needs major fashion advice and a completely new singing and dancing image — possibly with them performing together,” but she “stopped short” of telling Spears to dump her husband.

However, isn’t all this just a bit presumptious? Should Madonna to be dispensing advice to anyone given her own current problems?

After all she is reportedly coming to California largely because her own five-year marriage is in meltdown. And many have observed that the aging icon has become a bit too obsessed with both exercise and diet.

Rather than face the fact that no one can stop the clock Madonna who is pushing 50 exericises three hours daily and observes a diet that has left here looking more like a victim of malnutrition than an example for Britney to follow.

As for career advice Britney might be better off calling comeback queen Mariah Carey. The curvacious singer hasn’t suffered from her healthy intake of food, as the three Grammy awards she took home recently demonstrate.

Mariah looking goodMeanwhile all Madonna got out of the Grammys was a hernia. And her husband film director Guy Ritchie, formerly the boy wonder of British cinema, has been in a career slump ever since he teamed up with his wife for film flop Swept Away.  

“Last but not least, [Madonna's] telling Britney to get back to the teachings of Kabbalah” reported the Ottawa Sun

Those “teachings” don’t seem to have done Madonna much good.

Britney drops in on HindusAfter almost a decade following the dictates of the controversial “Kabbalah Centre” its regimen apparently has failed Madonna. The star once known for reinventing herself, settled for a retro dance albumn with a generous gift from Abba for a hook. And the star’s personal life seems to be increasingly unraveling.

Ms. Spears may be in a bit of slump, but she is still after all on the sunny side of 30. And though Britney may like to hop from one religious group or trend to another she arguably hasn’t gotten stuck yet.

Maybe Britney Spears has something to teach Madonna, which is that there is a time to move on.

Note: Madonna fans have observed that the star could not have won a Grammy for 2005 because her latest disco disk was not elgible. It will be elgible for 2006. 

One of the most inane and perhaps insane films to come out since Battlefield Earth with John Travolta was ”What the (bleep)? with J.Z. Knight.

J.Z. Knight says she speaks for 'Ramtha'This is a “cult film” that was actually produced by members of a group called a ”cult.”

A few of the faithful from the “Ramtha School of Enlightenment” that believe a former housewife and cable saleswoman from Tacoma speaks for a 35,000 dead general named “Ramtha” from the “lost continent of Atlantis” made this stinker.

Now comes the so-called “director’s cut” titled “What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole.”

But the producers of this long-winded “New Age” preach-a-thon should have tossed footage of the ridiculous Ramtha down some “hole.”

The not so well received original has reportedly been “bloated into a shameless infomercial for the Ramtha” who offers her boring philosophy in “a droning monotone” reports Phil Villarreal for Scripps Howard

Villarreal calls the film “condescending…one-dimensional…Pseudo-scientific and psychological mumbo jumbo.”

Frankly that’s charitable.

Anyone who believes J.Z. Knight speaks for the dead, from Atlantis or anywhere else, is really “Down the Rabbit Hole.”

Moving from one religion to another has become almost a daily event for Britney Spears.

Britney the 'cult' hopper?Formerly Baptist Britney has gone from Kabbalah to Hindu and now it’s “yoga.”

Spears was spotted dropping in on “Singh Khalsa” reportedly a “yoga master” and “Sikh.”

The pop star is receiving some kind of “therapy” from the man in his LA home allegedly based upon “ancient Kundalini yoga practices” reports Ireland On-line.

However, it looks like the devotee of a group often called a “cult” has actually taken in the pop star.

Khalsa is associated with 3HO, which stands for the “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization,” founded by the now deceased “Yogi Bhajan,” a notorious guru that built a following in the United States beginning in the 1970s.

Not exactly a mainstream Sikh, Bhajan was often derided by his more orthodox brethren as a bit of a heretic.

The man revered by his American devotees as “Sin Singh Sahib” was once sued  by his own secretary for fraud, deceit, assault and battery.

A leader immediately below Bhajan that largely ran his New Mexico ashram was indicted for drug running, racketeering and money laundering.

Not exactly the kind of people Ms. Spears should hanging around with now is it?

The star seems to be on an odd spiritual journey and two of the groups that she has wandered into, former galpal Madonna’s Kabbalah Centre and now 3HO have been called “cults.”

Is Britney Spears becoming a “cult hopper”?

Sheriff Baca, Scientology's new special friend?It seems like Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is becoming one of Scientology’s special friends.

Not long ago Baca appointed Scientology’s apparent President for life Heber Jentzch to a slot on his “Executive Clergy Advisory Council.”

Then Baca “spearheaded” the 6th Annual Multi-Faith Prayer Breakfast,” which included Jentzch along with Scientologist and sitcom star Jenna Elfman. The former “Dharma” gave a speech pitching a Scientology-linked program called “Criminon.”

Now Baca has shown up at a special fundraiser for another Scinetology-linked project called “Youth for Human Rights International” run by Scientologist Mary Shuttleworth according to a recent press release.

The Sheriff brought his wife to the elegant “gourmet dinner for a select one hundred and twenty guests” at Scientologist and actress Anne Archer’s Brentwood mansion.

The event raised $50,000, more than $400.00 per plate.

Has the Sherif become Scientology’s latest “soup du jour”?

It appears that Tom Cruise continues to have significant influence over the heir to the largest fortune in Australia, which may eventually mean big bucks for Scientology.

Packer helps Cruise hoist Holmes aboard his yacht “If there is one person whom media scion James Packer knows he can rely on in a crisis, it’s Hollywood star Tom Cruise” gushed the Sydney Morning Herald.

And Packer’s life has been one crisis after another in recent years including an emabarrassing business failure, divorce and now his father’s death, which may make him an easy mark for Scientology.

Cruise, who befriended Packer while filming The Last Samurai in New Zealand, flew down to attend the elder Packer’s funeral with pregnant girlfriend Katie Holmes aboard his private jet.

Reportedly “the friends were believed to have spent [time] in seclusion” after the funeral.

So what is Scientology’s “Top Gun” up to with the heir to Australia’s biggest fortune?

In the past Cruise apparently persuaded Packer to attend Scientology courses and not long therefter the tycoon’s son took on a Scientologist as his live-in personal assistant and tutor.

Sounds a bit like Katie Holmes and here newfound “best friend” who is also a Scientologist and probably the “mystery woman” that accompanied TomKat on their trip “down under.” 

“Mr. Packer has found the man who will help coach and support him through the next phase of his life” predicted the Sydney Morning Herald.

And almost any coaching Cruise provides typically includes Scientology.

Will Packer become prey for his proselytizing friend?

James Packer has previously denied press speculation that he has become a Scientologist, but with his old buddy Tom Cruise hanging around this may easily change.

Ever wonder what happened to the Japanese cult leader responsible for gassing thousands of Tokyo subway riders in 1994?

Shoko Asahara, jailed founder of AumWell it has been more than a decade and Shoko Asahara, convicted of murder and sentenced to death, is still taking up cell space in his own very special quiet way.

The once all-powerful and outspoken cult leader now just mumbles incoherently, makes bizarre gestures and wets himself.

His lawyers say Asahara was “unfit for trial” and they keep demanding more definitive psychiatric tests.

However, the Japanese courts have ruled otherwise and declared the guru “fit for trial” reports Ireland On-line.

“He’s incapable of any form of communication whatsoever,” says a psychopathology expert that visited Asahara in prison.

Apparently he suffers from “stress” brought on by “confinement.”

His lawyers shouldn’t expect any sympathy though from the Japanese courts or the public. Asahara is responsible for the murder of twelve subway riders and the injuries of thousands rushed to hospitals for emergency care.

Once the grand master that controlled a financial empire and ruled as a tyrant over an estimated 40,000 followers this self-proclaimed messiah can’t seem to adjust to the reality of life as a mere mortal supervised by prison authorities.

It’s no great shock though that Asahara has ultimately proven to be as crazy as other cult leaders from the past.

However, unlike Jim Jones, David Koresh, Luc Joret, Marshall Applewhite, or Joseph Kibwetere, Asahara decided not to do himself in when his luck ran out.

Instead he hid hoping to somehow get away with his crimes.

Now forced to face a life without the trappings of his former glory Asahara has shut down and shut out the world around him.  

In the end a living example of what makes cult leaders tick and often ultimately unwind.

Madonna seems to think that her teachers at the “Kabbalah Centre” can somehow save her marriage reports the Daily Mail.
Maybe Madonna should think for herself?But turning to them for advice may be like going “from the frying pan into the fire.” And further proof that once strong star known for her independent thinking has become far too dependent upon her spiritual advisors.

The “rabbis” at the center have supposedly advised Madonna to wait until after Passover to resolve the reported rift between her and film director Guy Ritchie, the father of her second child.

“She has confided in teachers about her fears for the future of her marriage because it is under a huge amount of pressure,” says a source from inside the London center that Madonna’s millions helped to create.

The same anonymous source added, “They have been discussing with her what she should do as being able to hold onto love and making marriage work …Kabbalism is supposed to help.”

However, after about a decade of involvement with the Kabbalah Centre’s and its brand of “Kabbalism” isn’t it time for Madonna to try something else?

The former “Material Girl” must know that the teachings of her mentor Philip Berg have often been derided by Jewish scholars as “McWisdom,” little more than slick marketing and magical thinking.

After all, if it’s broken why not fix it?

And why rely upon the mechanics that haven’t been able to keep her marriage running smoothly in the first place?

Continuing to wear the “red string” bracelet or gulping down “Kabbalah water” like other Berg believers is unlikely to help Madonna much.

The one-time music queen of the 1980s is reportedly “down in the dumps,” so why not dump the Bergs?

Rumor has it that Guy Ritchie has reconsidered his involvement with the Kabbalah Centre, so why not his wife?

“The teachers told her that hopefully she will see things more clearly after Pesach,” says the Kabbalah Centre insider.

But to really see things more clearly perhaps the pop icon needs to think this out alone or at least without her Kabbalistic handlers.

It may be too late to save her marriage, but it’s not too late for Madonna to save herself and once again be her own person, rather than a marketing tool for Berg Inc.

Scientology is not really known historically for its charity work.

The organization that was founded by pulp Sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard seems more adept at collecting fees for “religious services” through a price list of “suggested donations” rather than doling out funds or food to the needy.

Scientology volunteers take time out from fire for photo opBut lately the controversial church, which has been called a “cult,” seems intent upon burnishing its image. So Scientology is engaged in what at times appears to be both a frantic and frenetic public relations blitz, through its so-called “volunteer ministers.”

In one hi-profile heavily reported disaster after another its ubiquitous volunteers show up to help out. Almost always wearing their bright yellow tops or jackets, which are so easily visible and readily photographed.

What do these volunteers actually do though to help?

Do they come with meaningful material assistance or does each new disaster simply provide another platform for self-serving promotion?

Scientology reportedly collects hundreds of millions of tax-exempt dollars from its faithful annually, but it can’t seem to scrape together a few million to buy food, medicines or other forms of conventional emergency relief.

Instead Scientology volunteers, who often pay their own expenses, hand out things frequently paid for by others. They also do something called “touch assists.” This means the Scientologists literally touch people, which supposedly can alleviate trauma or helps someone to “cope” with something confronting them.

However, these assists though very touching have no scientifically measurable effect and have more in common with the claims of magic than medicine.

A “team of Scientology Volunteer Ministers” recently turned up in South Africa and ”set up operations to assist the firefighters and other emergency personnel by distributing food and supplies and providing Scientology Assists” reported the organization’s official Web site.

CultNews has reported before about Scientology’s special interest in assisting firefighters and rescue workers in New York. Tom Cruise even showed up and said he wanted to help too.

Of course whenever Tom Cruise offers charitable “help” it almost always seems to be linked somehow to Scientology.

Perhaps if the controversial church wants the public to perceive it as a kind and benevolent organization it should spend a few million dollars on some food and/or medicine. After all, that’s what other churches do all the time.

In this way Scientology might be taken seriously as a “church” rather than a business. That is, by providing more substance and less spin.