the Church of Scientology
since 1968
ALEX GIBNEY & HBOThe Prison of Propaganda

Letter from Ashley Epstein to Sheila Nevins

February 12, 2015

Sheila Nevins
President, HBO Documentary Films


Re: Unauthorized use of my 8-year-old ****** daughter in your film

Dear Ms. Nevins,

It has come to my attention that my own and my daughter’s faces have been included in your recent film “Going Clear.” How dare you exploit my ****** ****** daughter. No one ever contacted me, asked to hear what I had to say or requested my permission to use photos of my daughter or me. I am furious that you would take advantage of my family, especially my daughter, to promote a film that is so opposed to what we believe.

****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** I cannot begin to imagine the emotional trauma that could occur as a result of your careless and malicious use of her images, and your apparent disregard for privacy, in what is factually a private family tragedy. We have had a hard enough time explaining my mother’s abandonment of us without having to deal with public ridicule for something that is not my daughter’s fault.

As a mother yourself, you must have some idea of the emotional ups and downs of raising a child. ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** Sara Goldberg, however, does know the extensive amount of time, money, sweat and tears my husband and I have put into making sure my daughter has the best chances for success and happiness in life. I am devastated and outraged that she would use our photographs ****** ****** ****** ****** to try to gain sympathy for herself and support for actions which I find morally disgusting, knowing full well the effect this could have on her granddaughter’s emotional and social well-being.

I want nothing to do with her self-serving attack against my religion. It was my mother, not the Church, that created this situation. She tore our family apart - first by driving a wedge between me and my father before, during and after their divorce, then by supporting my brother in his less-than-savory immoral pastimes, and finally, by attacking my religion and my friends.

To put this in perspective, Nick, my brother, has had ethical lapses for some time—his use of illegal drugs, his alcoholism, his DUI, and more—he was tearing the family apart. He would even get angry at ******, an innocent 3-year-old child, if she so much as touched his shirts (which he had forbidden my mother from putting through the dryer, so they would be spread around the house to dry). When ****** tried to interact with him, she was lucky if he simply ignored her. Most of the time, his response was either a scowl or “ASHLEY! GET HER AWAY FROM ME!”

At one point, ****** ****** made it necessary for us to leave our house and temporarily move in with my mother, her husband and my brother Nick. Nick was making more money than my mother but he was spending it on alcohol, drugs and other degraded activities. Sara was paying his bills and not charging him rent. On the other hand, we were dealing with ****** ****** and we were paying rent. I asked my mother about getting Nick to pay her rent and she vehemently refused. She said “My parents never charged me rent and I would never do that to Nick.” And when I then asked her why she was charging me rent, she said, “that’s different.”

Sara completely glosses over this and blatantly lies about Nick in your film.

You and Sara Goldberg have no right to drag me and my daughter into this attack. Sara specifically told me she wanted me to stay out of her business and that of my brother Nick, so I do not appreciate being dragged into it now. I’m frankly disgusted that my mother is using me and my daughter to elicit sympathy regarding her decision to attack my Church.

I consider your unauthorized use of my own and my daughter’s faces a violation of my rights. You do not have my permission to publicly use and profit from the use of our images and names to forward the lies you air in your film, and I insist that our names and images be removed immediately from your film.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.



Ashley Epstein

The Church of Scientology is committed to free speech. However, free speech is not a free pass to broadcast or publish false information. We have all seen what happens when facts are not checked or those being reported on are not given a chance to respond. The Church is taking a resolute stand against such actions—both on its own behalf and for others who either cannot or will not do so.