Cathy Bernardini just wanted to let her former husband, Mike Rinder, know about the dire health of their son Ben. She assumed—wrongly, as it turned out—that he actually cared about his son.
Stricken with cancer near his eye, Ben was fighting for his life and had been told by his doctors that he might be dead in five years if the intense regimen of treatments proved unsuccessful. Rinder had not seen Cathy, Ben or their daughter Taryn since he had walked out on them in 2007 without saying a word, disconnecting during a business trip to London.
After 30 years of marriage, Rinder didn’t even have the guts to tell Cathy or his children himself. Instead, he emailed a mutual friend to break the news to them. Two years later, she would find out he was having a relationship with a woman who is their daughter’s age.
Remarkably, Mike Rinder is now trying to make a buck passing himself off as a caring father who is being prevented by the Church from seeing the children he disconnected from. All of this is being orchestrated by fellow anti-Scientologist Leah Remini, who is using Rinder, a violent wife abuser, as a consultant in her efforts to make a buck with a cheesy reality TV show.
“The fact that Mike Rinder is being a consultant for Leah Remini doing a show on disconnection is totally absurd because Mike Rinder himself deserted his own family,” notes Cathy. “Now he’s acting as some expert on families when he’s the biggest family buster-upper that I’ve ever experienced.”
After disconnecting from his family, Mike Rinder never showed any interest in his children, just as he was too self-absorbed to show any interest in them during the marriage. And Ben’s cancer did nothing to change that.
Cathy flew to Denver to see Rinder at his home and tell him face to face, but he refused to speak to her. Then one day she approached him on a public street in Florida. Instead of listening to what she had to tell him about their son's illness, he physically attacked her, shredding her arm and twisting it to where it popped like a broken toothpick. Worked up into an uncontrollable rage, Rinder repeatedly screamed at Cathy, calling her a “------ bitch” to her face. She vividly recalls hearing her bones crack as he twisted her arm.
“All of a sudden he lashed out,” Cathy recalled. “He came straight up to me and he grabbed my arms in a crisscross vice and started pulling and pushing my arms down and he was pulling my bones out of the socket. I could hear my bones creaking and I would start screaming for him to let go and as soon as I started screaming for him to let go, he did it harder, jerked me down tight. His hands and arms are far bigger than mine and with a lot of force he yanked my shoulder, my collar bone and whatever else. He had keys in his hands by his thumb that was pressing my right arm and it actually put a hole in my arm. When he moved his arm away he ripped it.”
Cathy endured extensive physical therapy, but may never regain the full use and motion of her arm again. As her doctor wrote, “The forearm external would heal (with a scar), but Cathy’s shoulder did not recover and it was evident there could be nerve damage.”
Ben would eventually recover with extensive treatment. Through it all, Mike Rinder never asked about him, and never bothered to visit his son, save for the time he and a handful of thugs showed up with cameras to exploit Ben by trying to make it look like Mike Rinder was a caring father being denied an opportunity to see his son. Ben knew the game his father was up to, and refused to participate and be exploited in his media stunt.
To hear Mike Rinder’s family tell it, he’s the ultimate disconnector and hypocrite for positioning himself as a caring father when he is anything but that:
“He cut off everyone who ever knew him,” Cathy said. “He cut me off, his wife—I was married to him for over 30 years, his children, his entire family, all his friends and the people he worked with for years. He cut every single one. He cut every line to everyone and refused to communicate and he went his own way.”