Tom Cruise, ever the crusader for Scientological aims, is one of the targets in a new $250 million lawsuit against the “Church” filed in Florida this month. The suit involves Peter Letterese, a long-time critic of the church and names Cruise as being involved in a systematic harassment on him by members of the church, which included phone calls to Letterese’s wife from a man claiming to be a homosexual lover of her husband, according to the New York Daily News.
Letterese calls the church a “crime syndicate” and wants it broken up under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization law, just as the feds have broken up Mafia families.
He singles out Cruise, who’s made no secret of his religion, saying that Scientology head David Miscavage is “aided and abetted by the actions of Tom Cruise, his right-hand man for foreign and domestic promotion, as well as for foreign and domestic lobbying. He has assisted the syndicate in acquiring funds and [made] his own donations of money believed to be in the multiple tens of millions of dollars.”
One of Letterese’s beefs is that the church allegedly uses a business book, “Effective Sales Closing Techniques,” as part of its teachings. He says this violates his intellectual property rights, since he bought the rights to the book from the widow of author Leslie Dane.
Cruise’s lawyer, Bert Fields, did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment.
Karin Pouw, a spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology, told us: “This is a frivolous suit based on falsehoods.”
Meanwhile, Hollywood private eye Paul Baressi, who has investigated problems for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eddie Murphy and now Cruise has taken up the cause defending the “Mission Impossible” star. Baressi, a former investigative associate of jailed private eye Anthony Pellicano, claims that Letterese “is just including a celebrity name to get attention.”