Charge Details Withheld In Scientology Case

Source: Globe and Mail
Date: December 19, 1984

More than 21 months after a massive police raid, charges have been laid involving the Church of Scientology of Toronto but the nature of the charges and the names of those accused are not yet known.

Casey Hill, a lawyer with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney- General, told the Supreme Court of Ontario that a justice of the peace had signed various summonses and warrants yesterday but that they had not yet been served on those charged.

Mr. Hill disclosed the charges during a hearing yesterday intended to hear a motion allowing the Ontario Provincial Police to retain possession of about 250,000 documents seized in a March, 1983, raid. The original court orders allowing the OPP to keep the documents had expired earlier this month and church lawyers had planned to argue that police could not retain them unless charges were laid.

More than 100 OPP officers, some armed with sledge hammers and fire extinguishers, raided the church's Yonge Street headquarters as part of an investigation into tax exemptions claimed by the church. The police alleged that the church and several employees defrauded the public with representations about several church courses.

Mr. Hill stunned the church's lawyers when he announced that the warrants and summonses had been signed yesterday morning by justice of the peace William Turtle.

Although the charges have been signed by the justice of the peace, only certain OPP officers, Mr. Hill, Mr. Justice John Osler and lawyer Clayton Ruby know what is contained in them. Mr. Ruby was allowed to read the information sworn by the OPP that forms the basis of the charges only after he promised not to inform anybody - including his clients, the Church of Scientology. He will be released from his undertaking when the first warrant has been served, which Mr. Hill said would be by tomorrow afternoon.

The OPP said last night that information on the charges would be released today. "This is utterly unprecedented," Mr. Ruby said yesterday after the highly unusual court hearing adjourned for the day. "It's so unprecedented it makes me laugh." Earl Smith, president of the Church of Scientology of Toronto, said "this is really bizarre. It's so secret - we're the clients and we can't even find out what's going on. "This reminds me of Nazi Germany," he added.

The process of laying the charges began on Dec. 1 when OPP Detective-Sergeant Albert Ciampini swore a nine-page document that contained allegations about the church in front of Mr. Turtle at the Toronto (Don) Jail.

The information was sworn just one day before a court order allowing the OPP to retain the 900 boxes of documents was set to expire.

Mr. Turtle held a private pre-inquiry hearing, involving Det-Sgt. Ciampini and Crown attorney Douglas Hunt, on Dec. 5 to 7 and Dec. 10. The OPP officer was summoned by the justice of the peace yesterday morning and told the various summonses and warrants have been signed.

Det-Sgt. Ciampini testified about the charges yesterday after Judge Osler ordered that he not be asked about the nature of the charges and any individuals named.

He said about 75 per cent of the estimated 250,000 documents seized in the police raid would be required to support the charges in court but that this did not include about 75 boxes of material sealed under various court orders while the court hears claims from the church that the material is confidential because it involves legal or religious matters.

Mr. Hill said the charges relate to allegations contained in documents filed by the OPP to secure the search warrant used to raid the church's offices.

Earlier yesterday, the church failed in its bid to have Mr. Hill disqualified from representing the Government in hearings about the fate of the documents or a related attempt by the church to quash the OPP search warrant.

The church argued that Mr. Hill had a conflict of interest because of a libel suit he is pressing against the church, its lawyer, Morris Manning, and three news organizations, including The Globe and Mail. The libel action results from a press conference held outside Osgoode Hall last September by Mr. Manning at which he announced the commencement of contempt-of-court proceedings against Mr. Hill over an alleged breach of court orders sealing some of the seized documents.

The church motion to cite Mr. Hill and another Ontario Government lawyer for criminal contempt was dismissed earlier this month by a Supreme Court of Ontario judge.

Mr. Ruby charged that because Mr. Hill is suing Mr. Manning and the church for $800,000, he would have a "pecuniary interest" in harming the reputation of the church before the libel case went to trial.

Judge Osler said the issue gave him "considerable difficulty" but he, nevertheless, rejected the allegation of conflict. But Mr. Hill voluntarily withdrew himself from any role in advising the OPP or representing the Crown at any criminal trial involving the church.

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