Tom Cruise's Former Scientology Auditor: "He Should Let Katie Have Everything She Wants"

As we wait to see how nasty the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes divorce becomes, we asked Tom's former Scientology auditor and legal affairs adviser, Marty Rathbun, to speak to us about the last time Cruise was in this position.

In 2001, Cruise and Nicole Kidman ended their 10-year marriage, and it was Rathbun's job to bring the actor back into the church.

What the public didn't know at the time was that Kidman had been successful at keeping Tom almost entirely out of the church during their marriage, which is part of the reason that Scientology spied on his every move with the use of one of his employees. Once the couple split, however, Rathbun was tasked with luring Tom back into the fold. (He did such a good job, by 2004 Cruise was a rabid Scientologist.)

Rathbun was once Scientology's second most powerful executive, worked closely with church leader David Miscavige for more than 20 years, and personally audited Tom Cruise. He knew both men very well, and talked to us about his fears that Cruise will let Miscavige influence him on his divorce strategy.

Cruise is generally portrayed as having been cruel to Kidman in February 2001 when he notified her through an attorney that he was divorcing her. (The couple had just renewed their vows in December 2000. They had met in 1989 while filming Days of Thunder and were married on December 24, 1990.) But Rathbun says that as he began working to get Cruise back into the church, the actor told him that he wanted to be fair and split things 50/50 with Kidman, including custody of their two adopted children, Isabella and Connor.

(Rathbun regularly tells reporters that he will never reveal what Cruise told him during auditing sessions -- likening it to a religious confessional -- but in this case, Rathbun says he can talk about what he and Cruise discussed outside of auditing sessions as he acted as Cruise's legal affairs adviser. Rathbun left Scientology in 2004 and, after spending several years out of sight, resurfaced and began blogging about the church in 2009, harshly criticizing Miscavige and encouraging members to leave the organization and become "independent Scientologists.")

Over several months in 2001, Cruise and Kidman worked out a way to split up their combined worth of about $350 million. They also agreed to share custody of Isabella and Connor, but the children effectively came more under Cruise's control as they lived with him while Kidman lived in Australia. Isabella and Connor got Scientology training and are church members today.

Rathbun, meanwhile, says that with the legal issues solved, Cruise could concentrate on his commitment to the church. He audited Cruise as the actor became very close with church leader Miscavige, and spent increasing time with him at Scientology's international base, east of Los Angeles.

But Miscavige, Rathbun says, wasn't happy with how things had gone down, and blamed Rathbun for not convincing Cruise to be more aggressive in the divorce case.

"Miscavige came to me and said, 'You're a son of a bitch. You fucked Tom over on that divorce. If I was on that he could have got $80 to $100 million more'," Rathbun says.

Rathbun thought it was bad advice then, and it's bad advice now.

"I look at this now, [Katie Holmes suing for divorce,] and I think Tom should make this go away as quietly as possible," he says. "He should punt and let her have everything she wants."

Rathbun says Cruise simply isn't in the same position he was eleven years ago.

"When we were handling the Nicole divorce, she started to raise the specter of wanting the kids more than half the time. She hinted through her attorney that Scientology was going to be an issue. So we went in hard. 'Go ahead, bring it,' we said. And she backed off," Rathbun says.

"Tom may think he can do that now, and if he does, he's had it.
Because 2012 is not 2001. The landscape has changed drastically."

A litany of disasters has rocked Scientology in the last four years -- the devastating 2008 leak of an internal church video interview of Cruise, the attempt by the church to suppress the video and the resulting rise of the Anonymous movement, major exposes by the Tampa Bay Times in 2009 and 2011 about Miscavige's treatment of employees ("The Truth Rundown") and obsession with fundraising ("The Money Machine"), and this year's embarrassing debacle when the church sued former employee Debbie Cook.

And, as we wrote earlier [check that link out, it's got some crazy stuff], there are Katie's own concerns about Scientology, which numerous news organizations are reporting is her main motivation for the split -- to get her six-year-old daughter away from any further church indoctrination.

"It was a big deal to Tom and Miscavige when Connor would play with an e-meter," Rathbun says, referring to when Tom and Nicole's adopted son was Suri's age.

"But that would have scared Katie," he says.

Rathbun suggests that Tom Cruise could handle things badly if Miscavige is involved.

"They fought with Nicole to keep the kids in Scientology," Rathbun says. "If they're thinking like that now, then they're going to fight this. If Tom is still as close to Miscavige as he has been in the past, then he may be driven to fight hard."

Given the current climate of intense criticism of Scientology in popular culture, that kind of aggressive approach could be an utter disaster for the church and for Cruise.

"I think he'd be an idiot not to let her be the primary caretaker, as long as he gets visitation rights," Rathbun says.

by Tony Ortega


Btw all the original links in this post are clickable, so you can learn more about the craziness if you want. And you know you definitely want.