One man is key to the media coverage ignited against the Church of Scientology last year: Mark “Marty” Rathbun. But who is this man, really, who is making these allegations?
Who is the man who has made so many allegations against the Church, and if he’s lying, as so many Church members say he is, then what in his background would make him do so?
Rathbun was born in 1957. His father, 33-year-old Sherrill “Slade” Rathbun, Jr., was a Naval Academy graduate and former Navy officer, and his mother, 30-year-old Patricia Lois Rathbun, was the daughter of the man known for creating a famous advertisement picture of Santa Claus holding a Coke bottle.
From the time he was born, Rathbun’s family life was filled with mental illness, alcoholism and other tragedy, and, ironically, it was his family history of mental illness that brought him to Scientology.
His mother suffered a series of nervous breakdowns before and throughout his early childhood, and his father would later describe her to authorities as “a very disturbed person.”
Slade Rathbun told a family friend that when his wife was pregnant with Marty she received Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), also known as electroshock, according to a written statement provided by the family friend. The controversial treatment includes electrically inducing seizures.
The father also told the family friend that his late wife had extramarital affairs, including with one of his co-workers, and that she took his youngest son Marty with her to meet men. On one such occasion, one of his ex-wife’s lovers took her to a cottage, where he slapped both Marty and his mother, Slade Rathbun told the family friend.
During the summer of 1962, when Marty Rathbun was five, Patricia Rathbun was hospitalized, and she was released in late summer that year.
Two to three weeks after her release, on September 13, 1962, his home life grew even more traumatic.
About 7 a.m. that morning, his father kissed his mother goodbye as she still lay in bed at the family home in Mill Valley, California, just north of San Francisco. When his father came home from work that day about 5 p.m., he couldn’t find Marty’s mother and so reported her missing.
Her car was later found on the Golden Gate Bridge. Her body was spotted floating in the water by fishermen. She was wearing her husband’s Naval Academy ring and her wedding band on the same hand. There was no note. Her belongings found with the body included an Alcoholics Anonymous book.