Shawn Lonsdale - Response By Church of Scientology

Response By Church of Scientology

The Church of Scientology responded to Lonsdale's activities by hiring a private investigator to investigate him. The private investigator discovered that Lonsdale had two misdemeanor convictions for lewd and lascivious conduct dating back to 1999 and 2000, both related to public sex with men. In mid-July 2006, Posters with a mug shot of Lonsdale appeared in store windows warning that he had been arrested for sex crimes and was dangerous. The Church of Scientology told Bay News 9 that it did not hand out the fliers, but that they came from an organization calling the "Cleveland Street Safety League". The St. Petersburg Times reported that the man behind the "Cleveland Street Safety League" is "a longtime Scientologist known for confronting critics". The Scientologist behind the Cleveland Street Safety League created a website about Lonsdale and posted his arrest record and comments Lonsdale had made on a swinger site, and also called Lonsdale's family in New England claiming that Lonsdale needed mental help.

Lonsdale's employer and landlord received phone calls from Scientology representatives who claimed that he was a religious bigot and dangerous. Lonsdale was subpoenaed by the Church of Scientology for a deposition in the fall of 2006, and the Church claimed that he belonged to an anti-Scientology group which had previously been barred from protesting in certain areas in downtown Clearwater, the Lisa McPherson Trust. Luke Lirot, the lawyer who defended Lonsdale in the matter, told the St. Petersburg Times: "I found him to be quite affable and truly a very intelligent man ... I certainly hope that a very thorough investigation is conducted." In his deposition, Lonsdale stated he was unemployed and began to educate himself about Scientology while working on a photography project on homeless people in Clearwater. After reading more about Scientology, he decided to shed light on the organization and irritate Scientologists. Of the claims Scientology made that Lonsdale was affiliated with the Lisa McPherson Trust, Lirot commented: "It was obvious to everybody he had nothing to do with the trust, and the trust had been disbanded and dissolved many years prior ... They just wanted to try to come up with a way to preclude him from exercising his right to picket in downtown Clearwater, and they were unsuccessful in doing that."

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