Lerma in 2008
Arnaldo Pagliarini Lerma
November 18, 1950
Washington, DC, United States
|Died||March 16, 2018 (aged 67)|
Sylvania, Georgia, United States
|Cause of death||Suicide by gunshot|
Arnaldo Pagliarini "Arnie" Lerma (November 18, 1950 – March 16, 2018) was an American writer and activist, a former Scientologist, and a critic of Scientology who appeared in television, media and radio interviews. Lerma was the first person to post the court document known as the Fishman Affidavit, including the Xenu story, to the Internet via the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.
Lerma was born in Washington, D.C. in 1950.
Time in Scientology
Lerma started in Scientology at the age of 16 at the urging of his mother, an executive director for the Washington, DC church. He was impressed by L. Ron Hubbard's exaggerated account of his military career and scientific credentials.
Lerma joined Scientology's Sea Org and was assigned in 1976 to a post working alongside Hubbard's daughter Suzette. He later claimed that they became romantically involved and planned to elope, though others[who?] have disputed this. Lerma alleged that other Sea Org officers discovered their plans and threatened to mutilate him if he did not cancel the marriage. Lerma quit Scientology soon afterward.
RTC v. Lerma
After Lerma posted the Fishman Affidavit in August 1995, his home was raided by federal marshals and lawyers from the Church of Scientology, alleging he was in possession of copyrighted documents. A lawsuit was filed against Lerma and his Internet service provider by the church's Religious Technology Center (RTC), claiming copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation.
The Washington Post and two investigative reporters were added to the lawsuit, as an article written about the raid contained three brief quotes from Scientology "Advanced Technology" documents.
The Washington Post, et al., were released from the suit when United States District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled in a memorandum on November 28, 1995
When the RTC first approached the Court with its ex parte request for the seizure warrant and temporary restraining order, the dispute was presented as a straightforward one under copyright and trade secret law. However, the Court is now convinced that the primary motivation of RTC in suing Lerma, DGS and The Post is to stifle criticism of Scientology in general and to harass its critics. As the increasingly vitriolic rhetoric of its briefs and oral argument now demonstrates, the RTC appears far more concerned about criticism of Scientology than vindication of its secrets.— Memorandum opinion of November 28, 1995, by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema; Religious Technology Center v. Arnaldo Lerma, Washington Post, Mark Fisher, and Richard Leiby 
The memorandum opinion acknowledges what Scientology practices to this day: the "Fair Game" policy, a written directive by L. Ron Hubbard that encourages harassment of anyone who speaks out against the church. In conclusion, the court awarded RTC the statutory minimum of $2,500 for five instances of non-willful copyright violation.
Lerma started a website called Lermanet, which concentrates on news about Scientology and on documenting lawsuits by Scientology. He was also noted for discovering an altered picture on a Scientology website on New Year's Eve in 1999, one that appeared to inflate the number of members attending a millennial event at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in California. He posted the pictures to his website identifying the alterations, with the most prominent feature being the "man with no head". The story appeared on national television and in the press.
On March 28, 2019, the entire content of Arnie Lerma's "Lermanet.com" site was deleted by his surviving widow, Ginger Sugerman. Contents are only accessible through use of the "Wayback Machine" at archive.org.
- The Internet is the Liberty Tree of the 90s
- Copyrights and Why Scientology Hates Arnaldo Lerma
- Scientology Gag Agreements - A Conspiracy for Silence
- The art of deception, 1996
- Lerma, Arnaldo (2008-03-15). How I Got Fooled (Speech). Washington, DC. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
- Yonke, David (2005-07-02). "Scientology Story Sparks Heated Response". Toledo Blade. Archived from the original on June 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
- Ryan, Nick (2000-03-23). "The gospel of the web". Technology. The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-10-12.
- "Scientology and the Lerma Raid". www.cs.cmu.edu.
- Fisher, Marc (1995-08-19). "Church in Cyberspace - Its Sacred Writ Is on the Net. Its Lawyers Are on the Case". Washington Post.
- "Washington post article Church in Cyberspace;". www.lermanet.com.
- US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (November 29, 1995). "Religious Technology Center v. Lerma, 908 F. Supp. 1353 (E.D. Va. 1995)". Justia US Law. Archived from the original on 2017-07-16. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- Grove, Lloyd; Berselli, Beth (2000-01-04). "The Reliable Source: Scientology's Funny Photos". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
- Autry, Enoch (22 March 2018). "Local man dead, wife shot during altercation". Sylvania Telephone. p. 1.
Sylvania police officers responded to 308 Holly Road after a 911 emergency call was made of a woman with a gunshot wound. When the officers arrived, officers found Ginger Sugarman, 58, of Sylvania with a gunshot wound to the face. Officers reported that Sugarman was able to relay to them that she had been shot by her husband Arnaldo "Arnie" Lerma. Sugarman was transported by Scriven County EMS. Law enforcement with the Sylvania Police Department, Scriven County Sheriff's Office, and Georgia State Patrol went to 314 Holly Road to investigate the incident further. Officers located Lerma, 67, inside the residence. Lerma had expired from a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
- Ortega, Tony (18 March 2018). "Noted Scientology critic Arnie Lerma shoots and injures wife, then kills himself". tonyortega.org. Archived from the original on 26 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
- "Church of Scientology protects secrets on the Internet". CNN. 1995-08-26. Archived from the original on October 2, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-19.
- Wendy M. Grossman (December 1995). "alt.scientology.war". Wired Magazine 3.12. Wired. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- Kennedy, Dan (1996-05-15). "Getting Clear at BU?". Media Circus. Salon.com. Archived from the original on October 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-19.
- Prendergast, Alan (1997-08-14). "Hush-Hush Money". Westword. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-19.
- Grossman, Wendy (October 1997). "Copyright Terrorists". Net.Wars. New York: New York University Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-8147-3103-1. Archived from the original on September 7, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- Morgan, Lucy (1998-01-28). "Hardball". Special Report. St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on October 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-19.
- Borland, John (1998-11-09). "Scientology loses copyright round". CNET. Archived from the original on September 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- Macavinta, Courtney (1999-03-30). "Scientologists settle legal battle". CNET. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- Knight, Will (2000-01-10). "Scientologists admit to altering New Year photos". ZDNet. Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-19.
- Lermanet.com: Exposing the con (Arnie Lerma's Website) Media, Documentation and Pictures of 1995 Raid
- Church of Scientology protects secrets on the Internet CNN, Washington, August 26, 1995
- Affidavit by Arnie Lerma dated September 6, 1995.
- Brinkema, Leonie M. Civil Action No. 95-1107-A: Memorandum Opinion Alexandria: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia-Alexandria Division, November 28, 1995
- alt.scientology.war by Wendy Grossman, Wired Magazine, December, 1995
- Noted Scientology critic Arnie Lerma shoots and injures wife, then kills himself by Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, March 18, 2018