South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were once the focus of a Church of Scientology investigation, according to a former high-level Scientologist.
Marty Rathbun, who left the church in 2004, wrote on his blog Sunday that the duo became a target of the church's Office of Special Affairs sometime after airing of the 2005 South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet." In the episode, which spoofs the teachings of Scientology, Stan becomes a follower of the religion and eventually is believed to be the reincarnation of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
On Sunday, Rathbun posted a 2006 memo he claimed was written by the "commander officer" of the OSA, which Rathbun calls the "harassment and terror network of Corporate Scientology."
"Operations were run in an attempt to silence Parker and Stone," he wrote. "While Corporate Scientology was ultimately unsuccessful, left behind an instructive data trail during their efforts."
The document suggests the organization was identifying close friends of Parker and Stone in an effort to find some weakness.
"To find a direct line into Stone and Parker some of their friends have been identified," the document reads.
It then goes on to name writer Matthew Prager (Parker and Stone's That's My Bush!); John Stamos and his ex-wife, Rebecca Romijn; and writer David Goodman (South Park).
"These connections are being PRC’d," the document reads. Rathbun added that PRC stands for "Public Records Check -- an intense collection of every public record available on the target."
The memo continues: "There are some strings that will be pulled on the PRC on Stone. Otherwise the special collections will be debugged in order to get some viable strings that can be pulled."
Rathbun wrote that "special collections" is "covert information gathering such as trash collection, purchased phone records, hacked airline reservations [and] purchased bank records."
Rathbun told Village Voice that OSA reps would be looking for "phone records. Bank records. Personal letters that expose some kind of vulnerability. They'll read stuff into the kind of alcohol you're drinking and how much. Prescriptions. They'll figure out your diet. They can find out a lot about you through your trash."
The OSA letter concludes: "It is clear that this investigation is not going anywhere and DCOE [D/Commanding Officer External OSA] is getting it debugged."
Rathbun said that means "the commanding officer is pissed off and not enough is getting done." He teased that he will posting additional documents about the investigation soon.
Since leaving the organization, Rathbun has made it his mission to expose the inner workings of Scientology, but it hasn't come without consequence.
In July, during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about the church's $400 million real estate portfolio in Hollywood, he was visited by a group in a golf cart with an image of his head atop the body of a squirrel inside a red circle with a diagonal line through it. (A "squirrel" is a derisive term used by Scientologists to describe a former adherent who has "perverted" the religion.)
Rathbun told THR it wasn't the first time he has been visited by the group, which has said it is making a documentary about Rathbun under the Squirrel Busters Productions banner. (The church denies affiliation with Squirrel Busters, and there is no documentation that shows the group is a unit of the church.)
Writer Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) also has become an outspoken critic since leaving the organization in 2009, saying he had been "in a cult for 34 years."