POSTGAME SYDNEY: Jan Eastgate first court appearance (with violence) [2011/06/16]
Oh what a wonderful day...
On the lead up to this day there had been much speculation, speculation on how the cult would handle this situation. Some said they would throw her under the bus, some said she was too important an asset to lose and that they would fight hard to protect her (or really just keep her from the media and the authorities).
Well I think the events of today will go a long way in understanding how the future will play out.
We arrived before 9:30am, and the tone was set early on as we found OSA lurking in the Lobby of Downing Centre. Michael Gordon was sitting on one of the benches, and on the bench behind him one of his cohorts (Caucasian, pudgy, short blond hair, haven't seen them before). They were trying hard to look innocuous, especially the second, but wow they just looked so silly sitting back to back trying to look like they don't know each other, all the while furiously typing out on their mobile phones and cautiously peering at us from the corner of their eyes.
With no sign of Jan (she must of come very early to avoid the media) we soon departed the lobby and headed to the elevators to go up to the courts. Upon arrival on the 4th floor we checked the noticeboards and found Jan's notification – Courtroom 5.2. It was only when we arrived on the fifth floor did we realise the scale of Scientology's operation in place. We found Jan Eastgate soon enough, she was completed surrounded by Scientologists, and many more Scientologists were on the floor and about. Some we recognised but many we didn't, either way it was clear the Church was trying to put on a strong face and not allow any interference with Jan.
They took this to the extremes when she went to the toilet. We happened to be sitting next to the female toilet, and we were most amused when a block of scientologists shuffled down beside us shielding Jan. Some tried to stare us down but we just just looked calmly back in mild amusement.
Anyway after soon arriving outside the courts we decided to enter Court 5.2, lest the crafty culties try to slip something through without us. We entered the spaciously square and rather full Courtroom 5.2 under the firm gaze of Chief Magistrate Henson. There were a few free spaces near the back, a kind man sitting in the middle offered to shuffle across to make room for us three. I squeezed past him, murmured 'Thanks Bryan' and took a seat next to a bemused Today Tonight reporter.
The trial of the century was about to begin!
Quite removed from the idea that the culties would try and push this through fast, they took the opposite tack waiting till near the end of the court session when all the other cases had gone through (I think thats how it worked...). I lost track of time how long we were in the courtroom, must have been near 2 hours(?), but that doesn't matter, the courtroom was nice and warm and I gained some insight into how our legal system worked.
When most of the other lawyers had gone through their cases we decided to hop outside and see if anything was going on. Yes the Scientologists were still all lurking around, Jan was still with them so it looked like we hadn't missed anything. At this point I took a toilet break, which was unfortunate as the culties decided to have their case heard then! Luckily I missed very little, and slipped back into the courtroom for some premium lulz.
The direction of the Scientology legal strategy was quite clear from the get go. They were trying to have the bail conditions dropped so Jan could be whisked off the the USA, never to be heard of again.
We all knew that one of the bail conditions was the surrendering of her passport, but there was also another condition relating to not harassing or assaulting anyone (needs confirmation/clarification). The defense quickly tried to have this one dropped, and DPP didn't give up much of a fight for it, considering it a rather strange bail condition given the situation.
Next up was the passport and traveling. The defense launched into a lengthy explanation of how Jan has a US Greencard, how she runs a business in America, has employees, obligations, even a mortgage in the US, and how being forced to remain in Australia for the trial would be most burdensome. It was mentioned that if she remains out of America for 1 year (?) she would lose the Green card.
Also on travel restrictions it was noted Jan has aging/ill parents in Victoria, and she wanted to visit them but feared she wasn't allowed with the current bail conditions (the magistrate made a quip about the ash cloud preventing her anyway).
The most intriguing notion put forward by the defense was that Jan, apparently, has tried to speak to the police during previous visits to Australia, and that she has traveled to Australia knowing the police wanted to talk to her. Hmm, sounds rather unlikely...
Of course at one point the DPP bought up the ABC Lateline expose which started all this and some of the details were mentioned. Ouch for the Scientologists in the audience! I wonder how many still thought Jan was on some noble quest to crush psychiatry.
The defense also brought out some strange statistics, something about 85% of people charged with similar offenses do not receive a jail term? I will let others jump in with details here.
Ultimately the talk was about whether there is incentive for Jan to come back to Australia should her bail conditions be revoked. The magistrate noted the above points, and that Australia had a good extradition treaty with the United States, he then dropped the bail conditions, but imposed some kind of monetary incentive? (more info needed)
And of course finally a trial (?) was set for August 18th – Mark the date!
After this literally most of the courtroom left. It was only then I realised just how many scientologists there were that day – at least 20, possibly around 30. As before Jan was closely guarded on her exit from the room. I happened to be sitting next to the aisle and when Jan came near a Scientologist casually stepped in front of my seat blocking me off. I calmly smiled at one of the OSA guys while they filed out, he did not smile back.
TheFatMan and OneOneWasARacecar had exited a little early to head down to the exit for pictures, I hung around outside the courtroom for a little while to see what was happening. Bryan Seymour, bless him, was hanging around just meters from some of the scientologists. I took this opportunity to go over and personally thank him in a loud voice (*looks over shoulder to scientologists*) for all his work on Today Tonight. After this I headed down to the exit, Bryan stayed upstairs with the scientologists for quite some time – not sure what he was up to.
Down at the lobby I was greeted by a large group of journos/cameramen hanging around the entrance to downing centre. A big grin split my face, there was only one way out – Jan was about to go through a wall of fire.
The Scientologists evidently had other ideas about this, and clearly hoped they could hide and cower in fear upstairs and wait for the nasty SP's to leave them alone. They certainly tried hard to make this work and they made us wait for a LONG time outside – at least an hour. But thats ok, it was fun hanging around with the journos and we picked up some interesting conversations (Steve Cannane was around). I heard one of them remark this was probably their 'only' chance to get footage of Jan – since they know she will be fleeing to the US. So then most of the journo's stuck it out and waited around. During this time we saw a few odd Scientologists coming out – trying not to be noticed, but still no Jan!
Also during this time two asian OSA tools were VERY OBVIOUSLY filming us. They were doing the old 'taking vacation shots' and have the SPs conveniently in the background. HURR DURR. Steve Cannane from ABC Lateline eventually tried to talk to one of them, not sure how that turned out.
We eventually had a poke round the corner of the building to get a better view of inside the lobby and saw Michael Gorden (OSA) briefing a group of Scientologists, what were they going to pull I wonder! Well after much waiting they finally realised the nasty SP's weren't going to leave them alone and so then began the true epic lulz of the day.
I was nommin' a piece of bread outside when the call went up among the journo's. Suddenly the air was electric. I hastily turned on my little old point 'n' click and aimed it towards a MASS coming towards the entrance. And quite a mass it was – THREE FEET OF SOLID SHUFFLING SCIENTOLOGIST MEAT was slowly meandering towards us. The media instantly sprang into action and that three feet of scientologists was suddenly joined by two feet of journos – The scrum was on!
Things quickly turned nasty though, as the Scientologists were most firm to keep everyone away from Jan. The media was roughly pushed out of the way, one cameraman was clearly assaulted. The slow moving circle of body thetans slowly kept on going though and made it to the edge of the road where a car had carefully been timed to be waiting. Somehow through the dense package of bodies Jan was bundled into the car and took off. Unfortunately for Jan there was a red light just in front of her so the game was back on again! Another scrum and here things started getting really rough with the scientology handlers seemingly throwing the journo's away from the car, all the while Bryan Seymour, bless him, was calling for calm before someone got hurt. Soon enough the lights turned green and the car whisked off with a toot.
This wasn't the end of course and Bryan and some other media followed after some of the handlers who were rather unresponsive. Finally after this things winded down and people dispersed. We waved to Michael Gordon then headed off... http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/scientologist-gets-a-human-shield-for-court-appearance/story-e6frg6nf-1226076678302http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hwr2Z5HNnDg&feature=player_embeddedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_8fpw1DVVs&feature=player_embeddedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqx2FM5bCSU&feature=player_embeddedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfCNzf3ieMo&feature=player_embedded