Lisa McPherson Trust Navigation Bar and banner Go to our home page About the LMT About Lisa McPherson Find it on our search engine! Go to LMT Media Go to legal library index

Los Angeles Times

April 25, 1951


Dianetics Chief`s Conduct Lashed

Conduct of L. Ron Hubbard, 40, founder-president of dianetics, in abducting his own baby and then kidnaping his wife and subjecting her to a night of terror "appears to be reprehensible," Superior Jude Mildred Lillie declared yesterday. "But there is nothing this court can do about it," Judge Lillie added in discharging a writ against Frank B. Dessler, who was California administrator of the Dianetics Foundation, one of Hubbard`s companies last Feb. 24, the night of the alleged abductions.

Atty. Caryl Warner, counsel for Mrs. Sara Northrup Hubbard, 25, sought to have Dessler ordered to return the child, Alexis Hubbard, now 13 months old, to Los Angeles.

Possible Action

"It is obvious from the testimony," remarked Judge Lillie after an all-day hearing, "that Mr. Dessler has no control over the child and so could not possibly return her even on penalty of going to jail." The judge said, however, that she agreed with Atty. Warner that "something should be done" -- possibly action by the grand jury or Federal authorities. Vincent McGonigel, operator of a Westwood nursery, testified that, at request of Hubbard, he and his wife left here last Feb. 28 and delivered Alexis to her father in Elizabeth, N. J., on March 5. Hubbard had secreted the child at the McGonigel nursery under an assumed name, of which the McGonigels were aware.

Threat Described

"We have Alexis and you`ll never see her alive again unless you come with us" was her husband`s threat to her when he dragged her from bed at her apartment at 1 a.m. Feb. 25, Mrs. Hubbard testified yesterday. With her husband, she said, was Richard B. DeMille, close associate of Hubbard in the dianetics group and son of Cecil B. De Mille.

With De Mille driving and her husband keeping a stranglehold on her in the back seat most of the way, there followed a terrifying ride to Yuma, Mrs. Hubbard said. Dessler followed them in another car until they were out of Los Angeles, she added.

She was kidnaped, Mrs. Hubbard charged from the witness stand, because her husband learned she had consulted a psychiatrist about him and he feared she planned to have him committed to an institution.

Hospital Visit

At a San Bernandino hospital, she continued, Hubbard and DeMille attempted to have her confined, telling attendants she had gone crazy and was trying to kill her husband.

"The hospital wanted no part of it," Mrs. Hubbard said.

When Judge Lillie asked if she told attendants at the hospital that she was being kidnaped, Mrs. Hubbard replied:

"Yes, but they didn`t believe me, either. They just wanted no part of it." In response to other queries by Judge Lillie, Mrs. Hubbard disclosed that, as they approached the California-Aizona border, she signed a note dictated by her husband that she was accompanying him voluntarily. He showed it to border guards. She did this, she said, because Hubbard said he would free her in Arizona and tell her where the baby was.

Violence Charged

Mrs. Hubbard also told Judge Lillie that she had left Alexis at the Dianetics Foundation, 2600 S Hoover St., that night because she wanted to keep the baby away from Hubbard, who had been violent and struck her (Mrs. Hubbard) several times in preceding days.

Dessler denied taking part in removal of the baby from the Dianetics Foundation or the alleged kidnaping of Mrs. Hubbard. He was simply accompanying Hubbard, he insisted. He also denied he knows the baby`s present whereabouts. He said he had not seen Hubbard since that night but admitted having one telephone conversation with him and writing a few letters, none of which were answered. In her testimony, Mrs. Hubbard had said that, after learning of her baby`s whereabouts when she raced back from Arizona, she finally located the McGonigels` place just an hour or so after the McGonigels had left with the child for New Jersey.