Ron Miscavige Claims the Church of Scientology Hired Private Investigators to Spy on Him

Scientology Leader David Miscavige's father spoke with ABC News "20/20."

April 28, 2016, 4:44 PM

— -- Ron Miscavige, the father of the Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, claims the Church hired two private investigators, who followed him for over a year after he left the Church in 2012, to spy on him.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News “20/20,” Ron Miscavige said he found out about the P.I.s after police in West Allis, Wisconsin, got a call about a man acting suspiciously.

According to the West Allis Police’s report on the incident, dated July 30, 2013, police questioned the man on the street and at first he told them he was looking into buying a house in the neighborhood. After they checked his wallet, the man was identified as Dwayne Powell, a private investigator from Florida, who then told police he was in the area “on a job,” the police report stated. Dwayne Powell said he and his son Daniel ran a private investigator firm together.

Police searched Powell’s rented SUV and inside they found an arsenal of hand guns, rifles, 2,000 rounds of ammunition, a stun gun, a GPS tracking device, a high zoom camera, a satellite computer, a bag of license plates for five different states, and what police said “appeared to be a rifle silencing device,” according to the police report.

“It sounds like he’s a hitman, doesn’t it?” Ron Miscavige told ABC News “20/20.”

West Allis Police officers, along with an ATF agent, brought Dwayne and Daniel Powell in for questioning and started tape recording the interrogation. According to the police report, when investigators asked Dwayne Powell who he was working for, Powell asked for the tape recorder to be turned off while he named his employers, which the investigators said they did and continued to write down Powell’s statements for the report.

“He stated that he was hired by the CA based Church of Scientology to conducted [sic] full time surveillance of a Ronald Miscavige,” the report said, adding that Powell said he was being paid by attorneys for the Church, “and that the main client is a David Miscavige.”

According to the police report, Dwayne Powell said there was an incident earlier that month when he saw Ron Miscavige grab his chest outside of a Wisconsin grocery store parking lot and he called the Church’s attorneys, thinking Ron might be having a heart attack.

Dwayne Powell “stated that he was called about two minutes later by a man who identified himself as David Miscavige,” the police report said. “David told him that if it was Ron’s time to die, to let him die and not intervene in any way. He stated that this is the only time that he has ever spoken to David Miscavige and that he has never met him.”

Investigators questioned Daniel Powell and tape recorded the entire interrogation. During questioning, Daniel Powell said his father Dwayne had been a private investigator for the Church for nine years and denied they were there to harm Ron Miscavige, according to the police report. Daniel told police he and his father were “sport shooters,” which is why they had firearms and ammunition in their rented SUV.

Daniel told police that he remembered the incident when his father Dwayne Powell thought Ron Miscavige was having a heart attack and said his father “called his contact and reported it,” according to the police report.

“A couple minutes later, his dad told him that David Miscavige called him directly and told him not to intervene and let Ron die if it was his time,” the police report said.

Ron Miscavige told ABC News he remembered the “heart attack” moment, and said he was just reaching for his cellphone in his shirt pocket that day. When he heard his son had allegedly said that about him, he said it felt like a “shot to the head” and he said it lead him to believe that his son David felt his “position in the church and his public relations and his image meant more to him than a father.”

Monique Yingling, a lawyer for the Church of Scientology, acknowledged in an interview with ABC News that lawyers for the Church had hired the private investigators to follow Ron Miscavige, but said David Miscavige did not know about the hiring of the private investigators to follow his father, never spoke to them, and had nothing to do with them.

“There wasn't any reason to tell him [David Miscavige]” about the investigators, Yingling said. “They [the Church’s attorneys] decided that the private investigators were following Ron, first of all, for his own well-being and his own safety. They were also concerned that he might somehow, because he was an elderly man with David's name, become the pawn of some of the anti-Scientologists out there.”

“Lawyers use private investigators all the time for, you know, varieties of reasons, and it's just no big deal,” she added.

She also said in her interview that the West Allis Police mistakenly combined Dwayne Powell’s story with his son’s story when they stopped tape recording Dwayne and took down notes by hand, and what his son Daniel told police about David Miscavige calling them was incorrect.

“It's not true, and Dwayne Powell has said that it's not true,” Yingling told “20/20.”

The Church produced a signed statement from Dwayne Powell, saying he never spoke to David Miscavige and that both the police and his son Daniel got the report wrong.

“Certain statements I allegedly made to the West Allis Police Department have been misinterpreted. I have never communicated orally or in writing, directly or indirectly, with Mr. David Miscavige,” said Powell’s statement from the Church. “I never met him. I never received any instruction or directions from him directly or indirectly. David Miscavige never was my client. The statement made in a West Allis Police Report that I received a call from a man who identified himself as David Miscavige is not correct. I did not make such a statement to police.”

“Statements made by my son, Daniel, to the West Allis Police Department asserting that I spoke to David Miscavige and that David Miscavoige said not to intervene and to let Ronald T. Miscavige die are not true,” the statement continued.

The West Allis Police Department told ABC News in a statement that they stand by their report.

“The reports which have been authored by West Allis Police Officers and Detectives accurately reflect the statements of Dwayne and Daniel Powell on July 29, 2013,” the statement said. “There is no confusion in the statements that were made by Dwayne and Daniel Powell. Dwayne and Daniel Powell were interviewed independently of one another, and their statements corroborated one another. The ‘Declaration of Dwayne Powell’ dated August 7, 2015 directly contradicts statements which Dwayne Powell made to members of the West Allis Police Department in July of 2013.”

Ron Miscavige wrote a memoir, “Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me,” with Dan Koon, a former Church official who is now a vocal critic. It's out in stores on May 3.

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