All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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|LOS ANGELES — The first libel suit to
come to trial over a 1971 book,
The Scandal of Scientology, was interrupted last
week in Los Angeles County Superior Court while
Scientologists discussed the settlement of seven suits
filed about the book round the world.
A seven-man, five-woman jury has been chosen in the court of Superior Court Judge Thomas C. Yager for the civil trial, expected to last six to eight weeks.
Joel N. Bennett, the Scientologists' attorney, and Virgil Roberts, lawyer for the author, Paulette Cooper, reportedly said this week that the case was "99 per cent settled."
Yager delayed the trial to give attorneys time to word a 25-page statement that Scientologists want Miss Cooper, a free-lance writer based in New York, to sign.
The suit here was filed Dec. 15, 1971, seeking $500,000 general damages and $1 million punitive damages from Miss Cooper and Tower Publications, Inc.
Court records show that Tower was dismissed as a defendant on June 7, 1974, and won a court ruling Sept 7, 1973, that it had been improperly served with documents in the Los Angeles suit.
Rev. Jeffrey A. Dubron, church spokesman, told The Los Angeles Times this week that claims against Tower had been dropped because of a settlement in which Tower withdrew the paperback book from the market.
Tower president Harry Shorten wrote Rev. James C. Mulligan, Scientology president, on Nov. 27, 1973, stating, "We regret any difficulties caused to the Church of Scientology as a result of any half-truths or misstatements of fact in the book "The Scandal of Scientology," which we have published. Please rest assured that any such errors were not intentional on our part."
Records indicated that Tower paid a nominal cash settlement of $500. Tower officials had told The Times that pursuing the matter was not worth the legal costs.
Dubron said in discussing possible settlement of the case on trial that Miss Cooper "has offered to give us a written statement of apology and admission of error if we will pay her the sum of $25,000."
Court officials indicated that the money might be sought for Miss Cooper's legal fees, if it has been requested at all in the private settlement talks.
"The church does not intend to pay anyone to stop spreading false information about the church," Dubron said. "It is not our policy."
Miss Cooper had told The Times she believed that the multiple lawsuits were attempts to intimidate those who write about Scientologists, and that the lawsuit should be tried as a First Amendment freedom of press issue.
Scientologists, on the other hand, have maintained that they sue only when attempts to correct false reports and biased reporting prove useless.
The suit before Yager claims the Scientologists were libeled, losing prospective members and contributions, by the book title itself and several statements in the book. Among the statements by Miss Cooper that Scientologists claim are false and defamatory are: