Defendants Answer Summonses Crown Attorney Is Predicting Long Trial In Scientology Case

Source: Globe and Mail
Date: January 15, 1985

A Crown attorney says he expects a lengthy trial for the Church of Scientology of Toronto and 16 members and former members charged as a result of a four-year police anti-rackets investigation.

Douglas Hunt said yesterday that it is likely that those charged will stand trial together. Sixteen of the 19 people originally charged - and about a dozen lawyers - crowded into provincial court at Toronto's Old City Hall yesterday to answer summonses served last month.

Three people did not appear in court, and Mr. Hunt said that there are warrants outstanding against them.

The accused face one or more of three charges - theft over $200, possession of stolen documents and breach of trust. The church itself faces 17 charges.

The charges arise from an investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police that culminated in a massive police raid on the church's Toronto headquarters in March, 1983.

Those charged will appear in court Feb. 28 to have a date set for their trial.

Mr. Hunt said it is possible they could waive the right to a preliminary hearing and elect trial in provincial court, county court or the Supreme Court of Ontario.

Mr. Hunt said he expected the trial to last at least three weeks but probably longer.

Most of the charges date from events in the mid-1970s. The church says all those charged were members of its autonomous Guardian unit, which was created in 1966 to deal with security and public relations issues. The unit was disbanded in 1980 because it conflicted with church policy, according to church officials. About half those charged remain members of the church.

According to information sworn by the OPP last month, the documents involved in the charges include photocopies of files belonging to the Ministry of the Attorney-General, legal firms, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Metro Toronto Police, the RCMP and the OPP.

The OPP information says that some of the people charged were employees of the three police forces and the Attorney-General's Ministry. Mr. Hunt said yesterday that those individuals worked as office clerks.

Unaffected by the criminal charges under way is the continuing battle by the church to quash the search warrant used by the OPP nearly two years ago.

Lawyers for the church and the Crown appeared in the Supreme Court of Ontario yesterday to resume the arguments in front of Mr. Justice John Osler that began last June.

If the church is successful in quashing the search warrant, the charges filed last month would be thrown into doubt because the documents needed as evidence would have to be returned to the church.

Yesterday, church lawyer Melvyn Green argued that the information sworn by the OPP before Chief Provincial Court Judge Frederick Hayes nearly two years ago deliberately misrepresented facts about the church. Judge Hayes used this information to grant the OPP the search warrant used to raid the church's headquarters.

Mr. Green wants to question several OPP officers involved in obtaining and executing the search warrant as part of his effort to prove the search warrant violated the church's rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.