Scientology should be treated differently
[St. Petersburg Times, 4/7/01]
I represented the Lisa McPherson Trust and the 10 or more individuals who were acquitted in the recent trial before Judge Thomas Penick. Attorney F. Wallace Pope Jr.'s March 28 letter to the editor (Extra-duty program deserves praise) is just what one would expect from a Scientology mouthpiece. In his letter, Pope repeated a willful falsehood he was once forced to retract in court. In fact, no one was convicted of contempt in the recent trial before Judge Penick. Adjudication of guilt was withheld as to two of the approximately 13 people Pope and Scientology haled into court; the rest were acquitted outright.
Pope said that Scientology obtained an injunction against the Lisa McPherson Trust and certain critics but neglected to point out that after he saw what was going on, Judge Penick enjoined every Scientologist on Earth (or "Teegeeack," as Scientology calls our planet) from coming within 10 feet of people affiliated with the Lisa McPherson Trust. Judge Penick also enjoined this "church" from committing acts of violence and harassment.
Pope's letter also omits some important distinctions between Scientology and any other organization that might seek to hire off-duty police officers:
The president of the Church of Scientology International skipped bail in Spain and is currently a fugitive from justice.
Leaders of Scientology, represented by at least one lawyer who works with Pope, were convicted in a plot involving infiltration and burglary of federal government offices.
Scientology officials and organizations have been criminally convicted in Canada.
Scientology tried to frame and destroy Gabe Cazares when he was mayor of Clearwater.
There is now a civil suit pending over the death of a young woman who lost 30 percent of her body weight and died in the hands of Scientology in downtown Clearwater.
Scientology and its web of alter-ego corporations have been repeatedly cited for abuse of the courts and for framing their enemies and publishing lies about them.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. If Pope and Clearwater police Chief Sid Klein can't tell the difference between Calvary Baptist Church and a syndicate like Scientology, they are a lonely pair indeed.
Pope claims that the police officers working on Scientology's nickel are not off duty but are engaged in regular police work as "extra duty." He fails to report that one of Scientology's pet police officers admitted under oath at the trial that Scientology decides where he stands and what he does as long as Scientology is paying for his services. Furthermore, if these officers were working "extra duty" as police officers, they would have to be paid overtime wages -- and they aren't. They are acting as security guards and are paid straight-time by their employer, Scientology. If anyone doubts that the cash flow has affected the judgment and behavior of some officers, the Lisa McPherson Trust can provide enough videotaped evidence to lay those doubts to rest.
-- John M. Merrett, Jacksonville