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Scientology guard released on $5,000 bond

Title: Scientology guard released on $5,000 bond
Date: Saturday, 25 August 1984
Publisher: Clearwater Sun (Florida)
Author: George-Wayne Shelor
Main source: link (113 KiB)

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A Church of Scientology security guard, charged with false imprisonment late Thursday after police said he tackled and handcuffed a 21-year-old Clearwater man, was released on $5,000 bond Friday.

Roy Rosa Rodriguez, 30, who listed his address as the sect's headquarters at 210 S. Fort Harrison Ave., was arrested after he tried unsuccessfully to spray a suspected vandal with "Paralyzer" mace and subsequently tackled him and handcuffed the man's hands behind his back, police said.

A Church of Scientology official refused Friday to comment on the incident.

According to police reports:

A small piece of cement was thrown through a 6- by 5-foot window of a sect building at 500 Cleveland Street at about 9 p.m. Thursday. Four security guards, including Rodriguez, were in the building standing from 15 to 40 feet from the window. The window, covered with a reflective film, prevents persons inside the building from seeing out at night.

After "fumbling with the door's lock for a while," the security guards rushed out onto Fort Harrison Avenue and, seeing no one, three of them ran to Laura Street where a passerby told them, "He went that way," and pointed toward the bayfront.

Shortly thereafter, police were called to the Pierce 100 building where they found three sect security guards leading another man in handcuffs. The man, James M. Williams, a 21-year-old former sect employee, denied any involvement in breaking the window. He told investigators he was walking down the road when he saw the guards running toward him, "became scared" and ran from them.

When he got to the bayfront, he fell into the water tying to elude a guard and when he got out was again chased, tackled and handcuffed by Rodriguez.

All four were taken, voluntarily, to the police station where Rodriguez was arrested after taped interviews.

Rodriguez, after being read his rights, "admitted to handcuffing Williams" stating he thought Williams had thrown the brick through the window although he acknowledged he had not seen the culprit.

Williams, whose legs were cut during the brief struggle, was released. He said another man be had seen in the area may have thrown the brick. No one had been arrested in connection with the incident late Friday.

Richard Haworth, the sect's spokesman in Clearwater, refused several times to comment on the incident. Specifically he would not say why Church of Scientology guards carry mace and handcuffs or if Rodriguez would be disciplined.

However, interviewed about the guards several weeks ago—shortly after they appeared around Clearwater sect buildings—Haworth said: "They're not guards, it's just a change of clothes for people we've always had.

"They're around and are more visible, but it's all part of what's always been here for our security force. They do what any other security force do at any other building or any other church."

A telephone survey of 12 area churches, including different denominations, showed none has guards on staff.

Scientology has uniformed guards at many of its buildings around the country, and on more than one occasion a reporter has been challenged by them while on public property.

In May, while standing on a public street, a Clearwater Sun reporter was taking pictures of the sect's Hollywood, Calif., "Cedar's Complex" when sect guards demanded his film.

Two khaki-uniformed men who said they represented "Scientology" said they thought it "strange" anyone would want to take pictures of the building—an 8½-acre, eight-story building painted sky blue. They further asked what the reporter—who acknowledged he was a member of the media from out-of-state—was doing and then, as two other guards approached, demanded that he surrender his film. The reporter refused and left the area.

Last week a Sun reporter and a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times were standing on the sidewalk on the north side of the former Fort Harrison Hotel when Haworth approached from within the sect's courtyard and asked the Sun reporter what business he had on the sidewalk.

When a uniformed security guard approached, Haworth waved him away saying "I'll handle this," and following a brief conversation, the reporters left.