hate group Archive

You'll find articles about this subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.

French Court Upholds Scientology Fraud Conviction

Updated A French appeals court on Thursday upheld the Church of Scientology’s 2009 fraud conviction on charges it pressured members into paying large sums for questionable remedies.

The Associated Press says

Karin Pouw, a spokeswoman for the church in Los Angeles, denounced Thursday’s decision, calling it a “miscarriage of justice.”

She said the group would appeal the decision to the Court of Cassation and plans to bring a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. Another complaint in pending with a U.N. special rapporteur.

During the appeals process, the prosecution had asked for the church to be fined at least euro 1 million ($1.3 million) and its bookstore euro500,000. But the appeals court on Thursday instead ordered the same fines as the trial court, euro 400,000 ($530,000) for the church and euro 200,000 for its bookstore.

A court in Paris is set to rule in an appeal by the Church of Scientology over a fraud conviction.

In October 2009 A French court convicted the religious cult and six of its members of organized fraud. The case centered on the complaints of several people who spent huge amounts of money for the cult’s ‘purification packs’ and other alleged ‘cures.’

Scientology’s Celebrity Centre and its bookshop in Paris, the two branches of its French operations, were ordered to pay 600,000 Euro (900,000 dollars) in fines for preying financially on its followers in the 1990s.

The six members were fined as much as 400,000 Euro ($595,000) each. Among them was Alain Rosenberg, the French leader of the movement, who was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence and fined €30,000.

AFP says

On appeal, the prosecutor has sought a fine of not less than €1.5 million for the Celebrity Centre and the SEL bookshop, more than double the original penalty, and suspended prison sentences for most of the accused.

France regards Scientology as a cult, not a religion, and has prosecuted individual Scientologists before, but the original trial marked the first time the organisation as a whole had been convicted.

Church of Scientology lawyers in November raised five constitutional questions in a bid to get the trial annulled, but they were rejected, prompting the defendants and their lawyers to walk out.

The Celebrity Centre said in a statement that it had boycotted the trial because of “numerous violations of defence rights” and “doubts about the independence of the justice system felt throughout the trial, after the heavy interference of the executive in the judiciary.”

Prosecutor Hughes Woirhaye said the Scientologists were adopting an “evasive strategy” and making “a deliberate choice of systematic denial”.

Court hearings were curtailed because of the absence of the accused, while the four former followers who brought the case also withdrew from the trial.

The sole remaining witness was Catherine Picard, who heads Unadfi, an organisation that campaigns against sects and is a plaintiff in the case.

Picard testified to the “heavy debts, broken family ties” and the “state of subjection” that could result from the “sect-like methods” used by Scientology to “indoctrinate vulnerable people”.

Oct. 27, 2009 CNN report on the Church of Scientology’s fraud conviction.

In May 2009 The Daily Mail explained

The case centres on a complaint made in 1998 by a woman who said she was enrolled into Scientology after members approached her in the street and persuaded her to do a personality test.

In the following months, she paid more than €21,000 for books, ‘purification packs‘ of vitamins, sauna sessions and an ‘e-meter‘ to measure her spiritual progress, she said.

Other complaints then surfaced. The five original plaintiffs – three of whom withdrew after reaching a financial settlement with the Church of Scientology – said they spent up to hundreds of thousands of euros on similar tests and ‘cures’. 

They told investigators that Scientology members harassed them with phone calls and nightly visits to cajole them into paying their bills or taking out bank loans.

The plaintiffs were described as ‘vulnerable’ by psychological experts in the case.

Research resources on the Church of Scientology

Church of Scientology sues longtime leader over critical email

The Church of Scientology has sued its longtime Clearwater leader Debbie Cook after she publicly questioned the church’s aggressive fundraising tactics and other practices.

The Tampa Bay Times reports

The lawsuit — filed Friday in San Antonio, Texas, where Cook lives — reveals that the church paid Cook and her husband, Wayne Baumgarten, $50,000 each to remain silent about their time on church staff.

Cook, 50, worked 17 years as the church’s top official in Clearwater, Scientology’s worldwide spiritual headquarters. Serving in the post of “captain,” she presided over an operation that brought in more than $1.7 billion for the church during that time.

Cook and Baumgarten each signed nondisclosure agreements as they left the staff in October 2007. All told, Cook had worked in the church’s religious order, the Sea Org, for 29 years.

The church alleges that the couple violated the agreements when Cook circulated a New Year’s Eve letter urging Scientologists to work internally to reform the church. The letter reached thousands of church members via email.

Arguing that it faced “substantial risk of imminent harm and irreparable injury,” the church asked for and received an order temporarily restraining Cook and Baumgarten from saying anything more until a court hearing Feb. 9. […more…]

The paper says the lawsuit seeks at least $300,000 in damages.

Jan. 6, 2012 ABC News item about Debra Cook’s email

In a New Year’s Eve email sent to 12,000 Church members, Mrs. Cook accused David Miscavige, current chairman of the Church of Scientology, of turning the ‘religion’ into a fund-raising machine and dismantling the mechanisms in place to prevent too much individual control. She also accused Mr. Miscavige of straying away from what she termed the principles of L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction author who founded the Church in the 1950s.

Critics of the Scientology movement have always highlighted the apparent commercial nature of the ‘church.’

Last November the St. Petersburg Times, since then renamed the Tampa Bay Times, ran a series of investigative reports titled, “Inside Scientology: The Money Machine.”

Video from the investigative report, Inside Scientology: The Money Machine

The series included information from former Scientology insiders who say the church uses coercive fundraising tactics to feed its voracious appetite for cash.

Suing people has always been part and parcel of Scientology’s lengthy history of hate- and harassment activities. The practice is based on the ‘principles’ developed by the cult’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, who wrote:

The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.
– L. Ron Hubbard, A Manual on the Dissemination of Material, 1955 (See: The Purpose of a Lawsuit is to Harass)

Scientology — Business or Religion?
The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power
Scientology as a business
The cost of Scientology
The high cost of Scientology
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