Sunday, 18 August 2013

On this day...

Scientologists settle 4 suits out of court
Date: Monday, 18 August 1986
Publisher: Tampa Tribune (Florida)
Main source: link (147 KiB)

TAMPA — The Church of Scientology has reached out-of-court settlements in four multimillion-dollar lawsuits but U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich has sealed the records in all cases.

The settlements were reached in cases involving former Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares and his wife Maggie; Tanja C. Burden of Las Vegas; former Scientologists Nancy and John McLean of Ontario. Canada; and former Scientologist Margery Wakefield, whose address was unavailable.

Tampa attorney Walt Logan, who represented the plaintiffs in all four cases, said the files were sealed "over our objections."

The Cazareses sued the church for $1.5 million, alleging that the Scientologists invaded their privacy and maliciously prosecuted them with a frivolous lawsuit.

The Scientologists sued Cazares, who was mayor when the church set up an international headquarters in Clearwater in 1975, for slander after he opposed the sect's presence in the city. That suit was dismissed in U.S. District Court as frivolous.

"We can't talk about the terms of the settlement," said Cazares, a candidate for Congress. "But I' make no secret about the fact that Maggie and I are not unhappy about the settlement. In fact, we're smiling."

Ms. Burden's lawsuit, filed in 1980, sought $45 million from the church. She charged that the founder, the late L. Ron Hubbard, his wife Mary Sue and the church's Clearwater headquarters, enslaved her for more than four years.

Ms. Burden joined the church in 1973, when she was 13. Her lawsuit said the church promised to free her of mental and emotional problems and enhance her intelligence.

A federal jury, in a non-binding trial in March, recommended she receive a $325,000 award.

"Ms. Burden is satisfied with the settlement. I wish I could tell you more," said Michael Tabb, a Boston attorney who represented Ms. Burden with Logan.

The McLeans sued the church in 1981 for $6 million for invasion of privacy and malicious prosecution. A federal jury in Tampa recommended a $775,000 award in a non-binding trial in March.

Ms. Wakefield contended that the church fraudulently promised to cure her mental illness and instead mentally abused her. The amount of damages she requested was not available.

Paul Johnson, an attorney for the church, said in a prepared statement that the lawsuits "have been amicably settled."

The controversial sect, which claims 6 million members worldwide, contends that its teachings, based on works by science-fiction writer Hubbard, allow members to achieve inner peace and understanding.

Eyes Wide Shut

After Stanley Kubrick

Christiane Kubrick had 42 wonderful years with her husband. But in the decade since his death, she has been beset by tragedy. For the first time, she talks about losing one daughter to cancer, another to Scientology – and why her uncle made films for Goebbels

Turning the fables...
23 years of government harassment
Date: Thursday, 18 August 1977
Publisher: Denver Post
Author: James J. Kilpatrick
Main source: link (63 KiB)

A small army of FBI agents played another game of gangbusters last month with the Church of Scientology. 

By apparent actual count, 134 agents burst into three church offices in Washington and California. They hauled away tons of stuff. Now church leaders are fighting back.

Speaking simply as a tax-payer, I would say hooray for these scrappy reverends. They have sued the FBI, and they have just published a large book of documents having to do with the government's long campaign of harassment against them. Church lawyers pried the documents loose from a reluctant government by means of the Freedom of Information Act.

If the Scientologists' story were not so terrifying, it would have its comic aspects. But the story in fact is terrifying. Over a period of 23 years, commencing in 1954, the federal government has thrown its whole massive weight into a malicious persecution of this religious sect. A dozen different agencies have participated in the attack. Millions upon millions of tax dollars have been wasted. No statistician could compute the man hours of costly time that have been frittered away in blundering pursuit of these devotees.

For the record, I am as skeptical of the Scientologists — and as tolerant of their ideas — as I am of every other organized religion. Scientology may be a racket, as the government persistently contends, but this has never been proved as a matter of law. These people believe they have found a path to man's peace of mind; they profess to have founded an establishment of religion. And if church leaders seek rich converts, and milk them for large contributions, what else is new?

The story begins in 1954, when the United States Air Force, of all outfits, launched an investigation of Scientology in the area of Lowry Air Force Base in Colorado. The USAF Office of Special Investigation had some notion that the disciples were Communists, homosexuals, or either, or both.

In 1959, the Food and Drug Administration began an attack that would go on for years. Why the FDA, you may ask? A fair question. The Scientologists use a simple skin galvanometer, which they call an E-meter, as an aid in their metaphysical healing programs. The FDA said the E-meter was a quack medical device, hence unlawful.

In 1960, the United States Army moved up some troops. The Scientologists' book includes a photostat of one Army Intelligence report. If that report is a fair sample of the intelligence of Army Intelligence, God help the American Republic.

In 1961, the Air Force renewed its forays. In 1962, the FDA and the Bureau of Customs gave the church a hard time. In January of 1963, two huge vans, escorted by motorcycle police, rolled up to church headquarters in Washington. Government agents seized three tons of material, including 5,000 books, 20,000 pamphlets, and 65 of the devilish E-meters. It took 10 years of costly litigation before the courts held the raid an unconstitutional abuse of power.

In 1967, the Labor Department harassed the church by denying work permits to visiting ministers from abroad. The CIA checked in. The Post Office brought up its legions of postal inspectors, sniffing for mail fraud. The FBI kept surveilling away. The Immigration and Naturalization Service joined the fun.

Finally the government, having lost at every turn, threw the Internal Revenue Service into the breach. The IRS prepared whole pages of instruction for its agents' manual, dealing with special audits and investigations. 

The IRS now has 33 lineal feet of files on the sect, and all the government has for its trouble is a series of court rulings to the effect that Scientology is indeed a church as a matter of law.

Who's crazy? I ask you, seriously, now, who's outs? These meter-reading reverends? Or the government's klutzes who trample the First Amendment under foot?

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