Charges Against Scientologists Follow Huge Raid By 21 Months

Source: Globe and Mail
Date: December 19, 1984

The Church of Scientology of Toronto and 19 former minor officials are being served summonses today for a series of relatively minor charges such as theft, possession of stolen documents and breach of trust. The charges are the culmination of a 10-year investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police.

The 19 were ordered to appear in Provincial Court on Jan. 14 to answer the allegations, which in most cases date from the mid-1970s.

The charges of theft over $200 and possession of stolen documents involve photocopies of files belonging to legal firms, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Ontario Medical Association, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the Metro Toronto Police and the OPP.

None of the people charged is any longer a church employee although about half are still church members. No senior officials of the church, past or present, are being served with the summonses.

The charges come 21 months after a massive OPP raid in which about 250,000 church documents were seized. The OPP is refusing to make public the names of those accused, an unusual action that is a break with the tradition of common law, which says that the public has a right to know what who is being prosecuted.

The OPP said today that it will not release the names of those charged until all the accused have been served with a summons.

Church officials argued today that the charges are insignificant, compared with the massive investigation by the OPP anti-rackets squad, which began in 1974.

Cathia Riley, the church's director of legal affairs, said the people charged were members of the church's autonomous Guardian unit whose "overzealous" activities in the mid-1970s were recognized and dealt with. She said all those charged ceased to be church employees two years before the March, 1983, raid. Mrs. Riley said she believes the charges are retaliation for the church's role in exposing the activities of various U.S. and Canadian agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency.

She claimed Canadian authorities have been manipulated by the U.S. Government to press an investigation because of the embarrassment the church's exposes have caused.

Word of the charges came yesterday when 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 earlier in the day.

Mr. Hill disclosed the charges during a hearing intended to hear a motion allowing the OPP to retain possession of the 250,000 documents seized in its 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.

Clayton Ruby, the church's lawyer, was allowed to see the information sworn to obtain the charges only after he promised not to inform anybody - including his client. He was released from his undertaking today, when the the first summons was served. "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." 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 Mr. Justice John 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.

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.

But Mrs. Riley said today that she believes the charges are retaliation for the church's attempt to cite Mr. Hill and Jerome Cooper, a lawyer for the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

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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