Scientology 0n Trial in France

From the Independent:

The Church of Scientology in France went on trial today on charges of organised fraud.

Registered as a religion in the United States, with celebrity members such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology enjoys no such legal protection in France and has faced repeated accusations of being a money-making cult.

The group’s Paris headquarters and bookshop are defendants in the case. If found guilty, they could be fined €5 million ($7 million) and ordered to halt their activities in France.

Seven leading French Scientology members are also in the dock. Some are charged with illegally practising as pharmacists and face up to 10 years in prison and hefty fines.

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.

Scientology, founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, describes the “e-meter” as a religious artefact that helps the user and supervisor locate spiritual distress.

Investigators have described the machine as useless and said vitamin cures handed out by Church members were medication that should not have been freely sold.

Judge Jean-Christophe Hullin ruled last year that the offices and members, including the group’s 60-year-old French head, Alain Rosenberg, should be tried. The public prosecutor had recommended the case be shelved.

In a trial that has revived a debate about religious freedom in secular France, the defence is expected to argue the court should not intervene in religious affairs.

Scientology 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.

The headquarters and bookshop account for most of the group’s activities in France and a guilty verdict would in practice mean its dissolution, although it is unclear whether it could still open other branches in the future.

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12 Comments on “Scientology 0n Trial in France”

  1. 3rdMan Says:

    /popcorn

    I hope France takes extra precautions and protections within their legal system and in protecting their witnesses. Scientology engaged in witness intimidation and corruption schemes in the U.S. I would be a pity if they avoided prosecution through the same tactics.

  2. Ironhead Says:

    yep, if they’re smart they’ll have the plaintiff tucked away in some mountain fortress or something, for a little while. they can’t harrass them if they can’t find em.

    France FTW!!


  3. […] Even if the court rules in favour of the plaintiffs and decides to impose a ban, the Church of Scientology has the right to appeal and the legal wrangling could continue for years. See also here. […]

  4. Benjamin Cisco Says:

    Let them wrangle for years and years. It’s not the win that counts…yada…yada…LRon’s words.

    I hope that this plaintiff doesn’t get coerced into settling. They will be an international hero if they continue onwards with this case.

    Thanks for the update Mark.

  5. huh? Says:

    my comments arent working its not posting…?

  6. huh? Says:

    now its working? wtf?

    ^ Even if it takes years for them to gtfo either way its a HUGE WIN HUGE! It makes them look like a cult even more and especially European attitude towards the cult and it helps that they don’t gain a foothold in other neighboring countries. Also the thought and attitude with other countries will be like if France can do it then others can do it too. Other countries will feel energized if the cult looses. Also the headlines of a potential dismissal from France would give credence to anonymous and what we been saying. People will here this and put two and two together and be happy to belive us with these sometimes outrages claims against the scilons which we know to be true even more believable.

  7. dr.fang Says:

    If they lose, the legal wrangling will no doubt ensue.

    However, the decision would be the “shot heard ’round the world’. PR nightmare, and more stat crashing for DM.

    Not that it would end Scientology, but it would get publicity that they are defrauding people. The more the message gets out, the more people that will be “immunized” against the CoS.

    OTOH, Marc Headley’s suit has a good shot at putting a permanent dent in their operations…

  8. Kevin Owen Says:

    Another effort by the French to ban us. It does make good media, all these accusations and charges [none proven] sensationalised by the press. One thing I notice is that the hits on my website go through the roof when these attacks on Scientology are happening, so in the end we win anyway.
    Anyone who thinks one womans accusation that she was forced to spend to much 8yrs ago is going to get Scientology banned from France is living in a fantansy world. Like I said though it does make good press

    Church Of Scientology Statement On France Trial
    http://www.rehabilitatenz.co.nz/pages/scientology-france-trial.html

    Those That Oppose Scientology
    http://www.rehabilitatenz.co.nz/pages/scientology-opposed.html

  9. dr.fang Says:

    From Kevin Owen’s site:

    “Although the forty-year assault against Scientology® assumed large proportions, the source must be remembered-that small but influential circle of psychiatrists and their government stooges. Nor did the means change over the years: false allegations selectively planted in the media, then seeded into even more federal files as background “fact.”

    It is a method, with small adjustments, that also served to cause trouble overseas. The international pipeline left the US, primarily through IRS and FBI links, and discharged among the voluminous dossiers of Interpol.

    Interpol (originally designed to coordinate criminal apprehension between countries) was convenient on three counts: First, as a private organization it is not accountable to the people of any country, as are government agencies, and is free to amass secret dossiers and spread them far and wide; second, files bearing the authoritative Interpol stamp are assumed to be true; and, third, it had a decades-old relationship with the IRS and the FBI, the main repositories of false reports on Scientology in the US. In fact, IRS and FBI files contained virtually every rumor ever disseminated about Scientology®, further substantiating Congressional findings that these agencies were often used to launch politically motivated attacks against targets that had committed no crimes at all.

    What happened was fairly predictable: attacks against Scientology by government agencies in England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Australia-all with fervent media support involving the most outrageous allegations. Still, as usual, in every instance, Scientology prevailed.

    So it goes. Key psychiatric figures, their US government allies and psychiatric colleagues overseas-together they have spent untold millions of dollars around the world to stop Scientology.

    And they never have.”

    What I find amusing is this persistence of the theory of the EEEEEVUL Psychs is behind the attacks on Scientology.

    Somehow, these bespectacled, bookish, Birkenstock-wearing people have, somehow, organized this Grand Conspiracy to wipe out Scientology. Seriously, have you taken a look at one of these people’s desks? I doubt most of them can organize their address book, much less the Great Birkenstock Brotherhood! LOL!

    And between paying off student loans and 1992 Honda Accords, these folks have found the money to spend “untold millions” on defeating Scientology?!?

    Seriously, Kevin, if you can’t get the right, “Why”, how can you handle it?

    Get your facts straight, Kevin. Hell, get *one* fact straight, for starters. But I’l give you this, though; according to P.T> Barnum, there’s a potential Scientologist born every minute…

  10. Kevin Owen Says:

    Dr Fang wrote
    Somehow, these bespectacled, bookish, Birkenstock-wearing people have, somehow, organized this Grand Conspiracy to wipe out Scientology. Seriously, have you taken a look at one of these people’s desks? I doubt most of them can organize their address book, much less the Great Birkenstock Brotherhood! LOL!

    I agree most of them are a bunch of wackos. If you would have read the article right, which you didn’t, it doesn’t acuse the average bespectacled, bookish, Birkenstock-wearing psychiatrist.

    “Although the forty-year assault against Scientology® assumed large proportions, the source must be remembered-that small but influential circle of psychiatrists and their government stooges.”

    Top APA Shrink Needs Lesson in Disease vs. Disorder

    Difference Between Disease and Disorder

    Psychiatry: No Cures No Science [4 mins]

    Psychiatrists openly admitting at the 2006 APA convention that they
    have no scientific tests to prove mental illness and have no cures for these unproven mental illnesses.


  11. I’ve just posted on the case of fraud at http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/scientology-current-problems-illustrate-susceptabilities-of-religion/ I argue that the problems are indicative of broader susceptabilities facing religion–namely, susceptability to the profit-motive and an over-estimation of religious leaders.

    If you haven’t already read it, here is a NYT article on the case: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/europe/28france.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=scientology&st=cse


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