Scientology is to be tried for fraud in France

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http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,24316631-23109,00.html

Scientology on trial for fraud
THE Church of Scientology is to be tried for fraud, and seven of its members for illegally prescribing drugs.

The trial is the latest clash between French officials and the controversial religion.

The charges stem from a case taken by a woman who said she paid the church more than €20,000 ($34,590) for lessons, books, drugs and an "electrometre," a device which the church says can measure a person's mental state.

She allegedly made the payments after being approached by Scientologists in a Paris street in 1998.

The case to be examined at a still-unknown date by a Paris court is also being taken by another plaintiff and by France's professional pharmaceutical association.

Founded in the United States in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the Church of Scientology, which has attracted Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise, was officially recognised as a religion there 20 years later.

But it is often accused in France and in other European countries, including Belgium, Germany and Greece, of exploiting its members financially.

Scientology followers are expected to contribute money to the church's coffers and follow its courses in order to climb through the ranks.

In particular Scientologists use a spiritual healing method called Dianetics, which is designed to help alleviate unwanted sensations and emotions, irrational fears and psychosomatic illnesses.

A French parliamentary commission has classified the church as a sect.

Critics of Scientology in France and abroad accuse it of unfairly pressuring and harassing opponents, including judges, lawyers, parliamentarians and journalists who have investigated its activities.

The organisation often goes to court to raise defamation charges whenever it feels itself under attack.

In the French court case announced yesterday, Judge Jean-Christophe Hullin signed an order referring the church's main structure in France, the ASES-Celebrity Centre, and its bookshop for "organised fraud", legal sources said.

The ASES and the bookshop could be closed if it is convicted, according to a source close to the case.

The seven church members, including Alain Rosenberg, the manager of the ASES-Celebrity Centre, are to be tried for the "illegal exercise of pharmacy," the legal source said.

Judge Hullin's decision to proceed with the case went against the Paris prosecutor's office which in September 2004 called for it to be dismissed because of insufficient evidence.

Olivier Morice, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the "attitude of the prosecutor's office makes one wonder if political considerations were taken into account in the legal treatment of dossiers concerning Scientology."

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Also BBC here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7604311.stm
 

Kha Khan

Patron Meritorious
Reuters

Scientologists charged with fraud in France

By Thierry Leveque

PARIS (Reuters) - A French judge has ordered two departments and seven prominent members of the Church of Scientology in France to stand trial on charges of organized fraud, a judicial source said on Monday.

The case is the latest in a series of legal battles that have pitted the French judicial system against the Scientologists, who could be forced to stop their activities in France if found guilty.

The latest suit centers on a complaint made in 1998 by a woman who said she was enrolled into the Church of Scientology by a group of people she met outside a metro station.

In the following months, she said she paid 140,000 francs (21,340 euros) for "purification packs" and books which she said were a fraud. Other complaints then surfaced, prolonging the investigation.

Judge Jean-Christophe Hullin ruled that the Scientologists' Celebrity Center, bookstore and seven Church leaders should be tried for fraud and "illegally practicing as pharmacists".

The Church of Scientology is registered as a religion in the United States but has struggled to be accepted in Europe, with French authorities seeing it as a sect masquerading as a church to make money.

The Church of Scientology denounced Monday's ruling, saying it was being "stigmatized" by the courts.

"The special treatment reserved for the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center raises questions about the equality of the justice system and the presumption of innocence," it said in a statement.

The public prosecutor had said the case should be shelved. In a relatively rare move, Judge Hullin ignored the recommendation and ordered a trial, which is not expected to start for at least six months.

The Scientologists said the suit was "empty and concocted", adding that the original plaintiff had been reimbursed.

The Church of Scientology, which counts actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its members, was founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

It has faced numerous setbacks in France, with members convicted of fraud in Lyon in 1997 and Marseille in 1999. In 2002, a court fined it for violating privacy laws and said it could be dissolved if involved in similar cases.

(Writing by Crispian Balmer; editing by Elizabeth Piper)
 

Good twin

Floater
Umm... drugs? Really? Is this assignment of vitamins as drugs?

In the early years I was told what drugs to take by my MLO. Once I was in isolation at Flag. There were four of us in the same room. Every day someone came by and took our temperature and gave us antibiotics. None of us had seen a doctor. This was about 1977-78 or so I believe. The LRH reference stated if you have a fever you take antibiotics until your temperature drops to subnormal and then comes back up to normal. Then you can stop the antibiotics and return to course. I don't know where they got the antibiotics but we never saw a doctor.
GT
 

thetanic

Gold Meritorious Patron
In the early years I was told what drugs to take by my MLO. [...] I don't know where they got the antibiotics but we never saw a doctor.
GT

::jaw drops::

Never saw that, and if I had, I'd have written it up to the state medical board so quick that an instant read wouldn't have had time to register.
 

Good twin

Floater
::jaw drops::

Never saw that, and if I had, I'd have written it up to the state medical board so quick that an instant read wouldn't have had time to register.

Yes, it was a different time Thetanic. We had no respect for anyone outside the church. Especially medical professionals. Jus sayin.................
 

SchwimmelPuckel

Genuine Meatball
This is BIG! - I heard about that today on the primary radio channel here in DK, Danmarks Radio! - They NEVER mention CoS! - They have been 'shuddered into silence' by the Sinister Cult of Scientology and that has been so for 20 years!

But today they told the news about the French trial!

I am impressed and exited!

:yes:
 

Kha Khan

Patron Meritorious
Telegraph.co.uk

Telegraph.co.uk

French woman to sue Church of Scientology for 'organised fraud'
The Church of Scientology in France and seven of its leaders is to be tried for alleged organised fraud.

By Henry Samuel in Paris
Last Updated: 8:04PM BST 08 Sep 2008

If found guilty it could result in the controversial body’s main centres being closed down.

The charges, which also include claims of illegally prescribing drugs, were filed by a woman who complained that the Scientologists had allegedly brought about her financial ruin.

She claimed she was psychologically pressured into paying thousands of pounds for lessons, books, drugs and a device called an “electrometre” which the church says can measure a person’s mental state.

The case has taken ten years to come to court.

France’s professional pharmaceutical association and another plaintiff have also filed for charges.

Scientology is not banned in France.

It is a recognised religion in the United States, where it was founded in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Followers include Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

This latest court order refers the church’s main structure in France, the ASES-Celebrity Centre, and its bookshop for alleged “organised fraud”.

Both could be shut down if convicted, according to judicial sources.

The trial - for which no date has been set - is rare, as most previous cases targeted individuals but not the church itself.

The seven members on trial, including Alain Rosenberg, the manager of the ASES-Celebrity Centre, face a maximum seven year jail term if convicted.

The woman who complained was allegedly approached by Scientologists in a Paris street in 1998. At first she was offered a personality test, then invited to hear the results.

In his order, the judge found that the church had used “personality tests void of scientific value...with the sole aim of selling services or divers products.”

The 33-year old was allegedly gradually persuaded to hand over around £25,000 on books, communication and “life healing” lessons, as well as “purification packs”.

While claiming to “identify and resolve supposed psychological difficulties or favour personal development,” the judge said, the Scientologists’ “sole aim” was to “claim their fortune” by “exercising a psychological hold” over her.

The decision to proceed with the case went against a 2006 call by the Paris prosecutor’s office for it to be dismissed due to lack of evidence.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs described the judge’s decision as “courageous”.

The Church of Scientology denounced the ruling, saying it was being “stigmatised” by the courts.

"The special treatment reserved for the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center raises questions about the equality of the justice system and the presumption of innocence,” it said in a statement.
 

Nurse Pinch

Patron with Honors
::jaw drops::

Never saw that, and if I had, I'd have written it up to the state medical board so quick that an instant read wouldn't have had time to register.

This reference is still in effect and in use by the cult. Cannot remember its name, but its in the red vols. If someone has a it perhaps they could send a copy to the French prosecuters. :whistling: Burn them at the stake I say.. oops wrong time period.:unsure:
Pinchy.
 

Dulloldfart

Squirrel Extraordinaire
Excellent. I just saw this headline on Drudge. It is currently the #1 story on Reuters.

Heh. The CofS pulled it in again. :)

Paul
 

Wisened One

Crusader
LOL, I was JUST about to post this..as it is also on Yahoo News: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080909/ap_on_re_eu/france_scientology_trial

I was told by my Senior C/S to take Valerian Root for sleeping and anxiety help....(I know that's not drugs per say...but still....).

:happydance: Whoohoo, they say 7 of it's 'top members' ....wonder who they are?

The media is pouncing on such news, this is awesome!

Full article from the link above:

By VERENA VON DERSCHAU, Associated Press Writer Tue Sep 9, 12:09 PM ET



PARIS - The Church of Scientology and seven of its top members are to stand trial in Paris on fraud charges after an investigation into allegations by a former member that the church swindled her out of more than $28,000.

French judicial officials said Monday that the church — considered a sect in France — and the seven members are to face charges of "fraud in an organized group" and "illegally acting as a pharmacy." They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. A trial date has not yet been set.

The Paris prosecutor's office had recommended the charges be dropped.
The charges stemmed from a 1998 complaint by a woman who joined the church after she was recruited at a subway station. The woman, 33 at the time, invested thousands of mostly borrowed euros in Scientology courses and so-called purification packs containing vitamins and other pills.

The woman's lawyer, Olivier Morice, hailed the decision to hold a trial as "courageous," saying the case will strengthen France's fight against sects.
France has had a contentious relationship with the Church of Scientology. In 2002, a French court fined the Paris regional branch of the church for a data protection violation but acquitted it of attempted fraud and false advertising charges.

Established in 1945 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve problems. It claims 10 million members around the world, including celebrity devotees Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
 

klidov

Silver Meritorious Patron

KnightVision

Gold Meritorious Patron
The fraud Charge

I would suspect that they will go after them on the basis of what they claim the purif. can handle- radiation, drugs, toxins, mental cleansing as well as others. There is no medical proof that it does any of these, yet the church sells the garbage based on those grounds. In the US they may get away with it at the orgs. cause it's a "religious practice" but in France they have no such protections since they are regarded as a cult. I think that they do have a case against them- it's really a matter of if they have the stamina to fight it to the end.

As far as I'm concerned the purif should be outlawed unless cos detracts all claims for medical benefit and remove all the nut-job vitamin dosing, etc.
 

Lucretia

Patron with Honors
I heard this on ABC Radio National - national radio in Oz - on the Religion Report between 0830-0900 (ie prime time) yesterday.

The Religion Report often picks up things on $cn, and they're not scared to say scientology!!!

And check the case of the Sardinian hostage - another Lisa McPherson? Don't these guys learn?


Transcript:

Stephen Crittenden: France is one European country which is very tough on Scientology. Professor Stephen Kent of the University of Alberta in Canada, is an expert on cults, including Scientology. He was a guest on The Religion Report earlier this year. He's following the case in France, and I asked him back onto the program to tell us what's going on.

Stephen Kent: The current case involves allegations against two Scientology franchises, and seven members in France involving allegations concerning fraud. Now it's an interesting case because the initial allegations, or the complaints, go back to 1998.

Stephen Crittenden: Yes, it's a very old complaint.

Stephen Kent: Yes, that seems to be the case, though it's not clear what's happened between 1998 and right now and indeed Scientology claims that the original plaintiff in the case was in fact reimbursed. Now what shows up so far is that the case involves allegations concerning so-called purification packs.

Stephen Crittenden: I have to get you to explain what a purification pack is for our audience.

Stephen Kent: Sure. Well, this is based upon probably Scientology's purification run-down. Indeed some of the charges involve fraud for illegally practicing as pharmacists. In Scientology, programs are supposed to cleans the body of chemical and radiation residues. Part of the regime involves taking high doses of vitamins. Now it's not clear that that's what's going on in this case, but in previous cases involving convictions for Scientologists concerning fraud, there's always allegations concerning spiritual purification. So it sounds like what's gone on is that this person was sold probably vitamins as part of the purification run-down. But it's not entirely clear yet that that's what's happened.

Stephen Crittenden: Right. One of the reports I've read suggests that one of the charges involves illegally prescribing drugs and I've read that the French Professional Pharmaceutical Association is in fact one of the plaintiffs taking part in this case.

Stephen Kent: That's very true. And it's worth noting that there are a couple of previous cases involving at least fraud convictions. One was involved a suicide case in 1996 and 1997, and spiritual purification certainly showed up in a 1999 conviction against a former Scientology regional leader.

Stephen Crittenden: Are these cases in France you're talking about?

Stephen Kent: These are cases in France. There were charges of attempted fraud and false advertising in a 2002 case, and while a conviction for data protection violation did come out of that case, the attempted fraud and false advertising were dropped.

Stephen Crittenden: Stephen, we've mentioned that it's a 10-year-old complaint. I understand that in 2004 the Public Prosecutor in this case said he wasn't in favour of the case going ahead, but the judge has now over-ruled him. Just give us some background about why it is. It's very clear, isn't it, that France and Germany in particular, but some other European nations, are very hostile to Scientology in a way that the Australian government or the United States government are not. What is the reason for that?

Stephen Kent: Well there's two ways to support this judge's unusual decision to go ahead in context. One is that Scientology in France has had a somewhat difficult year. Early on in 2008 a French citizen in the island of Sardinia in Italy was forcibly confined and her brother was a high-ranking Scientologist, and apparently under his direction, four French Scientologists were forcibly confining this particular woman, in an upstairs bedroom in Sardinia. She literally got discovered by the police because she was rolling up calls for help in pieces of paper and throwing them out the window over through her neighbour's yard. It appeared that the high-ranking Scientologist in France was concerned about her sister's mental health and did not want her to stay in a psychiatric institution. And then later on in the Spring, the daughter of a Norwegian Member of Parliament committed suicide after she had taken a Scientology personality test. And of course it was all over the media that the suspicion was - but of course it's very difficult to prove - that this young woman had committed suicide because her ranking, her ratings on this so-called personality test were so low. So just in the context of this year there's been a lot of questionable activities involving Scientologists. But in the larger picture, the French government in 2001 passed a law against mental manipulation, so a group can be convicted and eventually outlawed for mentally manipulating vulnerable people. And this law was specifically targeting cults. Arguably the reason that France is so concerned about so-called cults and sex, on the one hand it experienced Nazism in the Second World War and on the other hand France portrayed itself as a secular State, that religion really has no place in the activities of the French government, and indeed the French government has an obligation to regulate activities and protect its citizens.

Stephen Crittenden: That's Professor Stephen Kent of the University of Alberta in Canada.
 
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