A Florida private detective told Wisconsin police in 2013 that he was hired by David Miscavige, the head of the Church of Scientology, to monitor Miscavige's father out of fear that the older man would reveal information about the inner workings of the organization, according to a report published Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Times, citing police records, reported that Dwayne Powell revealed the details of his mission to police after he was arrested in West Allis, Wis. on suspicion of obstruction in July 2013. Powell told police that he and his son, also a private detective, were paid $10,000 per week by the church through an intermediary to keep close to Ron Miscavige, who had recently left Scientology and lived in a nearby town.
According to a report written by West Allis Police Det. Nicholas Pye, Powell told police that "Ron and his younger wife, Becky, left the church and David is worried that they will divulge details about the church's activities and that their job was to know who Ron talked to, emailed with, where he went, what he did, etc."
David Miscavige has been the head of the Church of Scientology since 1987, a year after the death of the organization's founder, L. Ron Hubbard. The church claims celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its adherents, but it has come under repeated attack in recent years for alleged harassment and abuse of current and former members. Some members have accused Miscavige himself of abusive and otherwise violent behavior toward them. Last month saw the premiere of a highly-rated HBO documentary called "Going Clear", based on a best-selling book of the same name that examined Scientology and the many accusations against it.
According to Powell, their job involved searching Ron Miscavige's garbage, photographing him when he left his home, and secretly installing a GPS in his car to track his location. The Times reported that police records indicate that authorities found marks on the underside of Miscavige's car that they concluded were left by the GPS system.
On one occasion, Powell told police, he and his son witnessed Ronald Miscavige grab his chest and slump over while loading his car during a shopping trip. After contacting their intermediary for guidance, Powell said he received a call from a man identifying himself as David Miscavige. The man told Powell that "if it was Ron's time to die, to let him die and not intervene in any way."
Attorneys for Miscaviage and Scientology denied the claims made by Powell to the Times.
"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," Miscavige attorney Michael Lee Hertzberg said in an e-mail to the paper.
The Times reported that Ron Miscavige and his wife told police as recently as this past September that they believed they were still being followed.