Eric Rubio: Scientology took his money and his life

Posted on October 9, 2010 by

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By John Brown

Eric Rubio thought he would become happy and important in Scientology. Instead the cult left this inadequate and solitary man to starve to death in a foreign country.

Eric Rubio died in Denmark in January 2002, aged 35. He was a simple soul, who found many things in life rather difficult. He had got involved with Scientology ten years earlier when living with his father in Paris and, like many more intelligent people, found it an exciting experience. His mother, another inadequate soul, at first thought that her son had got involved with a religious organization and by the time she knew enough to warn Eric, it was too late. Worse, she was classed as a PTS or Potential Trouble Source, someone critical of the cult, whom Scientologist must avoid, and Eric, who had so few resources, had to choose between his mother and the cult. Up to 1991 he continued to work at various jobs in Paris, then in 1992 moved to Denmark to join the Sea Org. His mother found that his few letters seemed to come from a distant person she found difficult to recognize.

In 1994 he wrote that he was disillusioned with the Sea Org: he had to work very hard, live in dreadful conditions, and was paid almost nothing. It seems likely that Eric never progressed beyond the initial punitive phase as a member of the EPF (Estates Project Force), who are used as slave labor in building projects and in maintenance prior to being promoted to the elite Sea Org. It also seems likely that the brutal treatment had serious long-term effects on his physical health and mental stability. At any rate he felt in 1994 that he had wasted two years of his life and planned to return to France. However it is not so easy to get out of Scientology. Eric needed a birth certificate to get new ID papers from the French embassy and wrote to ask his mother to send this document. She did, but it did not arrive. So Eric wrote again and his mother again responded, anxious to do anything to help, but he never got her letters. It is known from other sources that letters and other communications between Sea Org members and their families are monitored and censored or suppressed.

In 1997 Eric was declared an SP and unfit to be a member of the Sea Org. In fact it appears that his health had given way and that his labor no longer paid for his keep (which was minimal). This meant that he lost his accommodation with the Sea Org berthing, poor though it was, and had to fend for himself in a foreign country.  For a while he worked in a restaurant and as an office cleaner, and moved from one address to another, but he began to fail both physically and mentally. He developed cataracts and hyperparathyroidism. As his mind became confused, his behavior increasingly violent, and he couldn’t hold down a job and had to rely on state assistance. Besides all this, he was entirely alone in Denmark and had never learned to speak Danish.  He reduced his diet to vegetables and finally to onions and garlic.

Events of the last year or so of his life are not clear. In October 2000 he was very ill but apparently wrote to the Copenhagen organization applying to rejoin. The main outcome of this appears to have been a demand for the repayment of imaginary course fees. More certainly they were still trying to sell him expensive (and useless) books. From 2000 to his death he paid $132 to the CoS every month out of his social payments of $700. This left him practically no money for food.  The CoS, lying shameless as ever in the face of yet another ‘black PR’ disaster, say that Eric made only one repayment.  Anette Refstrup, a leading Danish Scientologist, also made the incredible claim that ‘No-one is obliged to stay [in Scientology] if they don’t want to. It would be impossible to keep people here against their will’. Those who know how Scientology works will know how true this is.

On 9 November 2001, hoping still for a solution to his very real problems, Eric Rubio used his last money to pay for a course in Yoga. Then he stopped going out and, by then completely deranged, tried to live on nothing but water and garlic. His social worker, worried about his lack of contact, cut off his benefit, expecting him to respond when he ran out of money. But he did not. Instead on January 15 2002 he was found dead in his clean but empty kitchen in his clean but empty flat. He weighed only 45 kilos (90 pounds), about half the proper weight for his height (1.67m). He had been trying to get home to his mother in France for more than seven years.

During those seven years many Danish people had helped him to the best of their ability.  The Danish Social Services did their best for this castaway but could not, of course, understand his real problem.  But Scientology, the organisation that was responsible for bringing him to Copenhagen and then leaving him, penniless, on the streets of the capital, was concerned only with recovering the money he allegedly owed them. They had exploited his labour as long as he was fit and when that failed they had no interest in him. Eric Rubio was not stupid – he was naturally a happy person – but he was defenseless against such heartless exploitation.

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